Employment-at-Will Historically, employment law was governed
by the common law doctrine of “employment at will” where either employer or employee could terminate the relationship at any time, for any reason. Today employment law is heavily regulated by state and federal statutes.
Employment-at-Will The doctrine of employment-at-will allows
the employer and the employee to terminate employment at any time, for any reason, without liability. Some states recognize one or more judicial exceptions to this rule, while some states recognize none.
An implied contract exists between employer and employee. Oral agreements may become part of the implied contract. Tort Exceptions: Wrongful discharge, defamation may be actionable. Public Policy Exceptions (Whistleblowing). Wrongful Discharge.
Wage and Hour Laws Wages and Hours. Davis-Bacon Act -- the prevailing wage act. Walsh-Healey Act -- the beginning of minimum wages. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) -- an extension of wage and hour regulation to workers in interstate commerce.
Family Medical Leave Act The FMLA requires employers with over
50 employees to provide unpaid leave to employees who need to care for a spouse, child, or parent suffering with a serious medical condition. The employee cannot be terminated for taking leave under the policy, and has the right to restoration to the same or a similar position upon return to work.
State Worker’s Compensation Laws These laws reduce employer liability to
employees for workplace injuries, and provide a measure of assurance that workplace injuries will be compensated, regardless of the solvency of the employer, by: Requiring that injured employees make a claim against the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy, instead of suing the employer. Requiring most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
insurance benefits of workers who have voluntarily or involuntarily been separated from work, unless the involuntary separation was on the basis of gross misconduct. Employers must comply if they have more than 20 employees.
Employee Privacy Rights Electronic Monitoring in the Workplace. Employee Privacy Under Constitutional and Tort Law. Personal right to privacy may not apply to work computers, especially if there is a policy manual. Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Stored Communications (part of ECPA).
Immigration Law Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Amnesty to certain groups of illegal aliens living in the United States. Sanctions for employers. Criminal and Civil Penalties. Antidiscrimination Provisions.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII prohibits discrimination in
employment on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, and national origin. “Sex” now includes pregnancy. In addition to prohibiting religious discrimination, employers must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices. Enforcement of Title VII by EEOC.
Discrimination Based on Race, Color, and National Origin Title VII prohibits employment policies or
intentional/ negligent discrimination on basis of race, color or national origin. Company policies that discriminate are illegal, unless (except for race) they have a substantial demonstrable relationship to realistic qualifications for job. Reverse Discrimination: discrimination against “majority” such as white males. See Richi v. Destefano (2009) involving white New Haven firefighters who were discriminated against by fire department be throwing out a promotion test.
jobs as male or female or from advertising such, unless employer can prove gender is essential to the job. Plaintiff must show gender was determining factor in hiring, firing or lack of promotion. 2009 “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” Equal Pay Legislation: removed time limits to file suit. Constructive Discharge. Voluntarily leaves because conditions “intolerable.” Applies to all Title VII discrimination.
Sexual Harassment U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted Title
VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination to include a prohibition against sexual harassment. There are currently two forms of recognized sexual harassment: Hostile Work Environment. Quid Pro Quo.