Employment Law Attorneys at a Glance
Disputes over employment terms -- hiring, firing, promotions, discrimination -- are quite common. There are two main types of employment law attorneys, those who represent employers and those who represent employees (typically the plaintiffs in such cases). Some attorneys work with both employers and employees, but most specialize in one or the other.
Larger employers typically have in-house employment lawyers who draft contractual language, review human resources policies, and generally work to limit an employer's legal exposure. Most of them never step foot in a courtroom, but mostly work to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal employment laws. Small businesses often have an employment lawyer on retainer, or seek one when needed.
When an employee needs legal representation, attorneys often work without pay until their client collects, whether it's a settlement or court-ordered damages. However, many employees are compelled to sign a pre-employment arbitration agreement requiring them to settle any disputes through the arbitration process.
When You May Need an Employment Law Attorney
A employment dispute can occur at any stage of the employment process, from hiring to termination and everything in-between. But while it is illegal to discriminate against protected individuals (women, racial minorities, the disabled) during the hiring process, it is extremely difficult to prove. So even if you have a strong hunch that you were excluded from consideration after your first interview solely because of your race, for instance, attorneys may not take your case without substantial proof.
But there are a number of scenarios where it makes sense to consult with an attorney in order to protect your rights. If you were discriminated against as an employee, an attorney can compare your treatment to the treatment of similarly situated employees for signs of bias. If you were denied overtime pay, a review of company records and some additional investigating may turn up evidence in your favor. Even without hard evidence, employers may choose to settle in order to avoid the cost and negative publicity of a trial.
Make sure you understand not only federal employment laws but also the laws of your state. Many states extend extra protections to employees not afforded through federal law.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
Besides choosing an employee-side employment lawyer, you may want to choose someone with special training or experience in the very issue you are handling. For instance, some attorneys specialize in employment discrimination or sexual harassment, while others are more focused on wage and hour claims. Before you sign anything, though, make sure the attorney clearly explains her billing arrangement.
Click on a link below to learn more about obtaining legal help for an employment-related dispute.
Your attorney will need to gather information about your case in order to evaluate its legal merits. This sample intake form, available in PDF and Word formats, will help you prepare the necessary information for that first consultation.
Definitions and explanations of all the most common employment law terms and abbreviations, such as Family and Medical Leave Act; constructive discharge; garnishment of wages; and implied contract.
Learning about employment law in your state, getting acquainted with your local courts, and knowing the basics of employment law are great steps toward protecting your rights as a worker. FindLaw's Employment Law Resources section includes a wide var...
This article has basic information about when you might need an employment lawyer, what you should look for when interviewing attorneys, and a brief overview of attorney fee structures.
An important part of running a business is understanding the labor and employment laws pursuant to your state. All U.S. employers are bound by federal employment laws but any state law providing more protection for employees must be followed. Click b...
Step-by-step instructions on how to approach an employer who you believe may have violated your rights, including steps to take if you are unable to resolve the issue internally.
Even though many employment laws are handed down by the federal government, state labor agencies also are charged with administering and enforcing such laws. Here is a useful directory of state labor agencies.
Hiring and working with an attorney can seem overwhelming at first. The matter of cost also is an important consideration, but that always must be weighed against the cost of not hiring legal counsel. When it comes to employment law, a good attorney ...
Take this simple quiz to test your knowledge of employment law. If you ace it, you can be confident in your knowledge of employment law. At the very least, you’ll be able to tell what you can handle on your own, and what you’ll need help with.