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Morgan & Morgan handles the most employment litigation cases in the entire country, including those involving wage theft, discrimination and harassment, employee misclassification, denial of leave, defamation of character, and more.
The workplace should be a safe place for employers and employees alike, but unfortunately, some workers are subject to unfair and illegal conditions by unscrupulous employers who opt to mistreat and take advantage of their employees.
These workers may not know what their rights in the workplace, or may be afraid of speaking out against their employer in fear of retaliation. These labor violations can lead to lost wages and benefits, missed opportunities in the workplace, and undue stress.
Unfair or discriminatory labor practices against employees can occur in a variety of ways, including failure to hire, denial of equal pay for equal work, on-the-job harassment, inappropriate sexual jokes or touching, wrongful discharge, defamation of character, unpaid wages or overtime, denial of leave, and employer retaliation.
That’s why our labor and employment attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are dedicated to handling a variety of civil litigation cases involving discrimination and unfair labor practices against employees.
Our lawyers possess the proper knowledge, dedication, and experience needed to represent employees in a wide variety of labor disputes, as well as personal injury cases such as car accidents, medical malpractice, and more. In fact, Morgan & Morgan’s Labor & Employment group has been recognized for handling the most labor and employment cases among plaintiffs’ firms over the past five years — almost twice as many suits as other firms.
Our attorneys may be able to help you, as well. If you suspect that you may have a potential labor or employment case, contact us by completing our free case evaluation form.
What Does Labor and Employment Law Cover?
Our practice involves representing individuals in:
- Discrimination Actions (e.g., sex, race, color, harassment, national origin, religion, age, and disability)
- Harassment (e.g., Sexual Harassment, Hostile Work Environment)
- Unfair Labor Practices (e.g., denial of wages, overtime, tip-pooling, and equal pay)
- Defamation of Character
- Denial of Leave (e.g., Family Medical Leave Act, Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
It is illegal to discriminate against an applicant or employee on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age. However, some employers will do just that, leading to a hostile and inequitable workplace where some workers are treated more favorably than others.
Workplace discrimination can take many forms. Some examples include:
- Refusing to hire someone on the basis of their skin color;
- Passing over a qualified female employee for promotion in favor of a male employee with less experience;
- Not providing equal training opportunities between employees of different religious backgrounds; or
- Imposing job eligibility criteria that purposely screens out people with disabilities, unless the criteria is vital to the execution of the job’s responsibilities.
When certain workers are subject to slurs, assaults, threats, ridicule, offensive jokes, unwelcome sexual advances, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, that can be considered workplace harassment. Similar to workplace discrimination, workplace harassment creates a hostile and abusive work environment.
Examples of workplace harassment include:
- Making unwelcome comments about a worker’s appearance or body;
- Telling a vulgar or sexual joke to a worker;
- Using slurs or racial epithets in the workplace;
- Making prejudicial statements about a worker’s sexual orientation;
- Making negative comments about an employee’s religious beliefs;
- Making prejudicial statements about an employee’s birthplace or family heritage; or
- Making negative comments or jokes about the age of an employee over the age of 40.
Workplace harassment can also take the form of quid pro quo harassment. This means that the harassment results in an intangible change in an employee’s employment status. For example, an employee may be forced to tolerate sexual harassment from a manager as a condition of their continued employment.
Overtime & Minimum Wage Violations
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established certain workers’ rights, including the right to a minimum wage (set federally at $7.25 as of 2018) and overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek for non-exempt employees.
However, some employers will try to cut costs by denying their workers their rightful minimum wage or overtime pay through sneaky methods. This is called wage theft, and it includes examples such as:
- Paying a worker a wage under the federal minimum wage;
- Giving a worker “comp time” or hours that can be used toward vacation or sick time, instead of overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per work week;
- Forcing tipped workers to pool their tips with non-tipped workers, like managers or cooks;
- Forcing workers to pay for their place; or
- Misclassifying a worker that should be paid overtime as “exempt” by promoting them to a “managerial” position without actually changing the worker’s job duties.
Some of the most vulnerable occupations to overtime and minimum wage violations include:
- IT workers
- Service technicians
- Sales representatives
- Nurses and healthcare workers
- Tipped employees
- Oil and gas field workers
- Call center workers
- Personal bankers and mortgage brokers
- Retail employee
- Exotic dancers
Executive compensation is the complex combination of base cash compensation, deferred compensation, performance bonuses, stock options, executive perks, severance packages, and more awarded to high-level management employees. Executive compensation packages have come under increased scrutiny by regulatory agencies and shareholders alike. If you face a dispute during the negotiation of your executive pay package, our attorneys may be able to assist you.
Denial of Leave of Absence
While leave of absence laws vary from state to state, there are a number of federally mandated leave of absence laws that protect employees who must take an extended period of time off from work.
Under the Family Medical Leave Act employers must offer unpaid leave time to employees with a qualifying family or individual medical situation, such as leave for the birth or adoption of a baby or leave to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. Employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave time under the FMLA without fear of jeopardizing their job status.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, on the other hand, guarantees certain protections to current and former uniformed service members who may need to be absent from civilian employment for a certain period of time in order to serve in the armed forces.
Leave of absence can be unfairly denied in a number of ways, including:
- Firing a employee who took a leave of absence for the birth or adoption of their baby without just cause;
- Demoting an employee who took a leave of absence to care for a dying parent without just cause;
- Firing a re-employed service member who took a leave of absence to serve in the armed forces without just cause; or
- Retaliating against a current or former service member who took a leave of absence to serve in the armed forces.
There are a number of differences between employees and self-employed workers, also known as independent contractors or consultants.
Unlike employees, who are given instructions as to when and where to work, guaranteed a regular wage amount, and entitled to employee benefits, among other criteria, independent contractors generally work on a short-term, contract basis with a business, and are invoiced for their work. Independent contractors are not entitled to employee benefits, and must file and withhold their own taxes, as well.
However, in recent years, some employers have abused classification by misclassifying bonafide employees as contractors in an attempt to save money and circumvent laws. This is most commonly seen among “gig economy” workers, such as rideshare drivers and delivery drivers.
Some examples of misclassifications include:
- Misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor to not have to comply with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission laws, which prevent employment discrimination;
- Misclassifying a worker to avoid enrolling a worker in a health benefits plan; or
- Misclassifying employees to avoid paying out minimum wage.
Defamation of Character
Defamation is generally defined as the act of damaging the reputation of a person through slanderous (spoken) or libelous (written) comments. When defamation occurs in the workplace, it has the potential to harm team morale, create alienation, or even cause long-term damage to a worker’s career prospects.
Employers are responsible to put a stop to harmful gossiping among employees, if it is a regular and known occurrence in the workplace. Defamation of character in the workplace may include instances such as:
- An employer making harmful and unfounded allegations, such as claims of theft or incompetence, towards an employee during a performance review;
- An employee spreading a harmful rumor about another employee that causes them to be turned down for a job elsewhere; or
- An employee spreading gossip about a worker that causes other coworkers to avoid them.
It is illegal for a company to punish an employee for filing a complaint or lawsuit against their employer. This is considered workplace retaliation. Although workers are legally protected against retaliation, it doesn’t stop some employers from punishing an employee who filed a complaint in a variety of ways, such as:
- Reducing the worker’s salary;
- Demoting the worker;
- Re-assigning the worker to a less-desirable job;
- Re-assigning the worker to a shift that creates a work-family conflict; or
- Excluding the worker from essential workplace activities such as training sessions.
Fortunately, our attorneys have handled thousands upon thousands of retaliation claims on behalf of employees who were punished for simply exercising their legal rights.
Our Attorneys May be Able to Help
The employment and labor lawyers at Morgan & Morgan have pursued hundreds of labor and employment dispute lawsuits every year. We are extremely proud of our successful track record of representing victims of labor and employment claims.
Our labor attorneys also represent employees before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Department of Labor (DOL), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
If you or someone you know may have been treated improperly by an employer or other employee, do not hesitate to contact our attorneys today. To learn about your legal rights and options, as well as inquire into the other practice areas our attorneys handle, simply fill out our free, no-obligation case review form.