A place of work should be a place where people feel safe as they earn a living for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, some workers are subjected to illegal and unfair employment practices by their employers.
Discriminatory and/or unfair employment practices against workers can take many forms, including harassment, wrongful terminations, denial of leave, discrimination, refusal to give reasonable accommodation, wage and hour violations, and employer retaliation. Workers who fall victim to some of these and other forms of unlawful employment practices may be afraid to speak up against the employers because they fear retaliation and don’t know their rights as employees and workers.
At FBD Law, we handle many different types of cases involving illegal employment actions and unfair labor practices against workers. Our Albuquerque employment law attorneys possess the experience, knowledge, and dedication required to represent victimized employees in a range of employment and labor disputes. If you think that you’ve been the victim of illegal or unfair treatment at your place of work, call (505) 305-1263 and schedule a free initial consultation.
Table of Contents
Labor and Employment Law: What Does It Cover?
Employment and labor laws cover a vast law area that governs workers’ and employers’ duties and rights.
A majority of the governing laws are designed to ensure workers are treated fairly and are safe in their respective fields of work. Employment laws are based on state and federal constitutions, administrative rules, court opinions, legislation and, in some cases, contracts.
The employment lawyers at FBD Law advise and represent clients on various issues related to unlawful or illegal employment practices.
At FBD Law, we represent individuals who’ve been the victim of:
- Wrongful Termination
- Retaliatory Discharge
- Harassment (e.g., hostile work environment, sexual harassment)
- Discrimination (e.g. race, sex, disability, religion, national origin, and age)
- Unfair Labor Practices (e.g., equal pay, denial of wages, and overtime)
What are Some of the Most Common Forms of Workplace Discrimination?
It’s illegal in America to discriminate against an employee or job applicant based on their race, sex, religion, color, disability, age, or national origin. Under New Mexico law, these protections are even further expanded. Unfortunately, some employers still engage in unlawful discrimination, creating an inequitable and hostile workplace where some employees are treated more favorably than others.
Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms and may include:
- Refusing to promote a competent and qualified female employee in favor of a male worker with lesser experience
- Refusing to hire or promote a person based on their race or color of their skin
- Enforcing job eligibility criteria that intentionally screen out individuals with disabilities
- Firing an employee based on a protected category
- Refusing to provide equal opportunities for workers of different religious backgrounds
Harassment in the Workplace: Common Examples of Workplace Harassment
When an employee is subjected to assaults, physical/verbal conduct of a sexual nature, ridicule, slurs, threats, unsolicited sexual advances, or offensive jokes, they experience workplace harassment. Just like discrimination, harassment in the place of work creates an abusive and intimidating work environment.
Some examples of workplace harassment include:
- Telling a sexual or vulgar joke to a coworker
- Making unsolicited comments about a worker’s body or appearance
- Using racial epithets or slurs
- Making negative comments about a worker’s religious beliefs
- Making prejudicial statements about an employee’s sexual orientation
- Making jokes or negative comments about the age of worker over 40-years old
- Making prejudicial statements about a worker’s family heritage or birthplace
Harassment in the place of work can also come as quid pro quo harassment. That’s when harassment leads to the intangible change in a worker’s employment status. For instance, an employee might be forced to endure sexual harassment from their superiors as a condition of continued employment.
What’s Considered Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination is when a worker/employee is fired for reasons that are unlawful or illegal under federal law or New Mexico law.
Suppose you’ve been fired from your workplace. Your dismissal can be considered wrongful termination if discrimination is involved, if company policies state the guidelines for termination and those rules weren’t followed, or if public policy was violated.
Other reasons that may be considered wrongful termination include getting fired for not being willing to commit a crime when asked by your employer, complaining about workplace issues, or being a whistleblower.
Discrimination can also be construed as wrongful termination if workers are fired based on their race, religion, color, nationality, age, gender, sex, or sexual orientation.
If you’ve been fired for one of the following reasons, you might be eligible to claim wrongful termination:
- Breach of contract
- Refusing to commit an illegal act
- Public policy is violated
- Company policy is violated
- Constructive discharge
If you have reason to believe that you’ve been discriminated against or have not been treated according to company policy or the law, please note that the U.S Department of Labor has legal information on all the laws that regulate employment and advice on how and where to file a claim. If you are in a union, the National Labor Relations Board can be of help.
In most cases, you can file a lawsuit against your former employer for wrongfully terminating your services. If you are the victim of workplace discrimination or any other type of wrongdoing, get in touch with a dependable law firm with experience handling labor and employment laws. However, something worth noting is that you have to file a discrimination claim with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or the New Mexico Human Rights Division before filing your suit in New Mexico.
If you feel that you’ve been wrongfully terminated, contact the employment lawyers at FBD Law and have them represent your interests.
Call (505) 305-1263 and schedule a free initial consultation with our Albuquerque employment attorneys for legal counsel and representation you can trust.
What Industries in America Have the Most Minimum Wage and Overtime Violations?
Violations of federal or New Mexico labor laws can happen in any size company or industry. From small businesses to large corporations, hour and wage violations occur, whether they’re due to intentional wrongdoing or errors. However, there are some industries where complaints and wage issues frequently occur due to industry practices. The following are the top violators when it comes to industry-wide overtime and wage problems:
- The healthcare industry
- The food and hospitality industry
- The cleaning and janitorial industry
What’s Employee Misclassification?
There are several differences between self-employed workers, also known as consultants or independent contractors, and employees. The main differences between the two are that employees are told where and when to work, are entitled to employee benefits, and are guaranteed a regular wage, among other criteria.
In contrast, independent contractors work on a contract basis, often short-term, and are billed for the services they offer. Independent consultants aren’t entitled to employee benefits. Furthermore, they have to withhold and file their taxes.
It’s worth noting that some employers abuse classification by misclassifying bonafide workers as contractors to circumvent laws and save money.
Examples of misclassification include:
- Misclassifying an employee to avoid signing them up in a health benefits plan
- Misclassifying an employee as a consultant, so the company doesn’t have to comply with EEOC laws (which are designed to prevent employment discrimination)
- Misclassifying workers to avoid paying the minimum wage
What Does Employer Retaliation Mean?
Employer retaliation is when an employer punishes a worker for engaging in legally-protected activities and includes any negative job actions such as firing, demotion, shift or job reassignment, salary reduction, or discipline. It can also be subtle.
In some instances, an employer’s actions are “clearly” negative – for instance, when they fire a worker. However, in other instances, it’s not so clear. In such cases, according to the Supreme Court of the United States, it’s essential to consider the circumstances. Let’s take a job shift change, for example. While it might not be objectionable to most workers, it could be detrimental to an individual with kids and a restricted schedule.
Even though employees are protected against retaliation by the law, that still does not stop some employers from penalizing/punishing a worker who filed a grievance. Some of the ways some employers punish their employees include:
- Demoting the individual who filed a complaint
- Reducing their salary
- Re-assigning them to a shift that leads to a family-work conflict
- Re-assigning them to a less-desirable job
- Excluding them from essential work-related activities like training sessions
What Do I Do If My Employer Denies Me Leave of Absence?
While New Mexico has its own set of state laws that govern when employees go on leave, several federally-mandated laws protect workers who must take extended periods off from their work.
Under the FMLA or Family Medical Leave Act, employers are required to offer unpaid leave time to workers with individual or a qualifying family medical situation, such as leave to care for a loved one with a severe health condition or leave for the adoption or birth of a baby. If qualified, workers are entitled to up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave time without risking their job status.
The USERRA or Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, on the other hand, assures certain protections to former and current uniformed service members that might need to be absent from regular civilian employment for some time to serve in the military.
If you think your employer denied you a leave of absence intentionally or you’ve been fired, demoted, or retaliated against due to taking a leave of absence, make sure you consult with an attorney for counsel on the best course of action to take. Get in touch with FBD Law now and speak to our employment law attorneys for advice and direction.
Let The Albuquerque Employment Law Attorneys At FBD Law Help You
The labor and employment attorneys at FBD Law have helped thousands of workers in Albuquerque, and New Mexico, pursue labor and employment claims over the years.
Apart from successfully representing victims in employment and labor claims, our employment law attorneys also represent workers before administrative agencies such as the New Mexico Human Rights Division, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Department of Labor.
If an employer or a coworker has mistreated you in any way, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office. FBD Law is here to help you understand your rights as a worker and, if need be, represent you in a court of law, to ensure your best interests are met. Call (505) 305-1263 today and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our competent and professional Albuquerque employment law attorneys.