Find an Affordable Employment Lawyer

Contributor, Benzinga

Employment and labor laws define the legal duties that define the employer-employee relationship. If an employer violates any of these legal protections, whether it be by wrongful termination or a toxic workplace, they can be sued for damages by their employees. 

You’ll likely need some legal aid for these cases. Start with our guide to find an affordable employment lawyer.

Employment Cases

Employment law is convoluted and involves federal laws, state laws, legislation, court opinions and more. Retaining a lawyer at the earliest possible stage, along with educating yourself on the law, will bring you closer to the compensation you deserve. 

Seek out expert legal advice and aid from services like Rocket Lawyer and Lawyer.com to get started today.

Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination cases are complex legal mazes, so it’s important to retain an attorney shortly after being fired if you believe your termination was illegal.

Why is it so complicated? Well, the employment-at-will standard is accepted as legal doctrine in much of the United States. Rocket Lawyer has a comprehensive list of which states follow this doctrine and what, if any, statutes modify this doctrine. This doctrine assumes that an employee-employer relationship only exists as long as each party desires it to. It can be ended at-will by either party.

There are legal protections preventing employers from abusing this doctrine. Wrongful termination laws differ by state, but there are federal guidelines employers must also respect. 

Your employer can also be held liable if it violates an employment contract or fires you in any other illegal way.

Finding a good employment law lawyer on Lawyer.com is crucial to a good case. For a successful case, you’ll have to demonstrate wrongful termination and that you lost benefits or pay. You’ll need employment records, proof of income and evidence of any contractual obligations your employer had with you. You will likely need to file a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before filing a lawsuit. 

Discrimination

Employees are protected from discrimination by the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Harassment is defined here as targeted, unwelcome actions and behaviors based on race, color, religious orientation, sex (including pregnancy), nationality, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Harassment that is in retaliation for making a discrimination complaint, refusing to uphold discriminatory workplace pracitices and policies or participating in some way in an investigation related to a complain also falls under illegal workplace discrimination. 

Generally, you’ll have 180 days from the last date of discrimination to file a complaint with the EEOC. If the commission determines you have a case, you’ll get a Right to Sue (though you don’t have to wait for this is every type of case). From there, you’ll have 90 days to bring a lawsuit against the employer.

Expect these cases to take a year or more from the start. Your case may drag out for several years if the stakes are high.

Sexual Harassment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for any employer to allow an employee be sexually harassed in the workplace. The employer has an obligation to ensure a harassment-free workplace to the best of their ability. Otherwise, it is legally liable for the harassment.

The EEOC defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” 

Discrimination based on protected traits is also outlawed, so even behaviors that aren’t inherently “sexual” in nature (like mocking someone for their gender or sexual orientation) still qualify as sexual harassment. 

Unlawful harassment occurs in habitual patterns and creates a hostile work environment. It can result in a negative consequence like being terminated for refusing a superior’s advances. 

The way you handle the sexual harassment case as a victim is important, so enlist the help of a lawyer as soon as possible. Lawyer.com offers a free lawyer search that can link you with a lawyer specializing in employment law. You’ll have to file a complaint with your employer first, so having a lawyer’s assistance with this often intimidating task can be greatly beneficial.

Sexual harassment cases often settle out of court, but they tend to move slowly overall.  A myriad of factors will determine the length of your case, but factor in the length of an EEOC investigation and you can expect at least a year of litigation.

Whistle Blowing

If you report your employer for illegal, dangerous or unethical activity, there are state and federal laws in place protecting you from retaliation.

In an ideal world, these protections would always work. But it’s a reach that an already unscrupulous employer would retaliate against you in spite of the law.

If you’re being harassed for whistle blowing or were terminated or demoted, you may be able to sue your employer.

Get in touch with a lawyer on Lawyer.com or Rocket Lawyer to discuss your rights and potential courses of action today. They can also direct you to potential administrative actions you can take depending on the nature of your situation.

Compensation Claims

Your employer is legally bound to pay you your agreed upon rate for all the hours you work. This rate of pay must be equal to or exceed the federal or state minimum wage. If they don’t meet these obligations, you have an unpaid wages case.

When considering damages, the court will take into account your unpaid wages plus interest plus penalties. You may be reimbursed for your attorney fees as well.

You may file an administrative complaint with your state’s labor department. This may be the best course of action for small amounts or easily provable cases. But if the damages are larger or the case is complex, hiring a lawyer is the best route. Use the ask a lawyer feature on Rocket Lawyer for expert guidance on what your best course of action is.

Do You Need to be Present?

It depends, but generally, you should plan to be present unless instructed otherwise. While your presence may not be legally required (this varies by jurisdiction and case), a judge or jury may assign your attendance. This means your absence may cause you to lose the case. 

Your case may also rely heavily on your testimony. Talk to your lawyer, but a good rule of thumb is to be present when possible.

A lawyer is a necessary tool for an effective employment law case. Go to Lawyer.com for a free consultation to get started today. Or hit up Rocket Lawyer for educational tools and legal advice from experts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I choose an employment lawyer?

A: The best way to choose an employment lawyer is to look for referrals. These can be referrals from someone you know who had a case successfully handled. 

Or use a service like Lawyer.com to compare lawyers who specialize in employment cases. You may also find legal resources and referrals from non-profit organizations that serve the needs of workers. 

Q: How much does an employment lawsuit cost?

A: In short, it depends. Most employment lawyers charge on a contingent basis. This means you’ll have to pay a percentage of damages awarded to your legal defense. This figure usually falls between 30% to 40%. 

Others charge hourly. You may pay between $75 to $250 an hour for just the consultation. If your employer fights you and the trial goes to court, it can get very expensive. And if you settle, you’ll usually get less in damages than if you win in court. 

Weigh the overall expenses associated with the case against what, if any, damages are awarded to determine the true cost of an employment lawsuit.

Q: Can I sue my employer for creating a hostile work environment?

A: Yes — it falls under harassment, but has to meet the legal standard. Harassment is illegal in the workplace if it meets 2 criteria: being subjected to the harassment is intrinsically tied to being employed at the workplace, and the harassment is both consistent and severe. 

If you complain to your place of employment and there is a hostile work environment, your employer is legally obligated to change these conditions. If it doesn’t, and the harassment continues or you face repercussions for bringing attention to the issue, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.