Business Lawyers in Columbus, Ohio
By Andrew Randol - April 20, 2019 - Employment & Labor
Labor and employment is one of the most heavily regulated sectors of the U.S. economy. Labor and employment law collectively refer to the thousands of federal and state laws and regulations governing everything from minimum wages, overtime, collective bargaining, workplace safety, and anti-discrimination laws.
Anti-discrimination law itself encompasses numerous categories and classes of persons including race, age, sex, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, disability (both physical and mental), and veteran status. These categories are often referred to as protected classes.
In other words, to make a claim of discrimination, a plaintiff must allege discrimination based upon one of the protected classes e.g. an employee can make a claim that he or she has been discriminated because of his or her sex or race. An employee cannot make a discrimination claim based upon some other status, such as being a smoker or having blue-dyed hair.
Discrimination claims can arise from dozens of situations, including hiring, firing, unequal pay, failure to promote, and anything else in which an employee can claim that he or she was treated differently based upon one of the protected classes listed above. A claim of discrimination can also be based upon sexual harassment in the workplace.
The breadth of employment and labor laws and regulations can make even the most experienced attorney’s head spin. Thus, all businesses should have an established relationship with a labor and employment attorney in Columbus, Ohio. A labor and employment lawyer’s job is to educate employers on how to avoid situations in which an employee could make a claim of discrimination and to have established written policies in place to help ensure that any discrimination suit will be won. These policies can consist of proper hiring procedures, discipline and termination procedures, employee handbooks, and in some cases, written employment contracts.
Discrimination suits often arise from seemingly harmless errors in any of these processes. For instance, a prospective employee’s status in any protected class should not be inquired about during the hiring process. This rule is often innocently violated by asking an interviewee “where is your name from” or “how old are you?” It is now even recommended to not inquire into the date an interviewee graduated high school or college, since this can be a proxy for asking the person’s age.
Labor law can also be inadvertently violated by businesses, particularly with social media policies. Many employers now have social media policies that forbid employees from disparaging the company on social media. However, some of this “disparagement,” such as employees using social media to discuss their dissatisfaction with their salaries, can actually be considered protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act or NLRA. Businesses should rely on a labor lawyer in Columbus, Ohio to ensure it does not inadvertently violate the NLRA.
Many new businesses add employees on an as-needed basis and give labor law or employment law little thought until their workforce has grown substantially. This can be a costly mistake if a labor or employment law is inadvertently broken before proper workplace rules and regulations are in place. For this reason, businesses should not wait until they have a substantial workforce before contacting a Columbus employment attorney. It is much easier for a labor and employment attorney to adjust the policies of a company as it grows rather than create and insert new policies into an already existing labor force.
Contact our firm today to understand how our labor law attorneys can help your business stay on track by ensuring that your company complies with state and federal employment and labor laws.