Ideally, the workplace should be an area where people feel safe as they go about their day and earn a living. Unfortunately, some workers are subjected to unfair and illegal conditions by employers.
Unfair and discriminatory labor practices against employees often take various forms, including wrongful termination, harassment, employer retaliation, wage and hour violations, refusal to offer reasonable accommodation, and denial of leave. Workers that fall victim to these and other forms of unlawful employment practices may fear speaking up against their employer because they fear reprisal or aren’t aware of their rights as employees.
Here at FBD Law, we are experienced in handling civil litigation cases of different types involving unfair labor practices against employees. Our employment law attorneys serve Rio Rancho and have the experience, dedication, and knowledge needed to represent victimized employees in a variety of employment and labor disputes. If you think that you have been the victim of unfair or illegal treatment at your workplace, call us at (505) 305-1263 to schedule your free initial consultation.
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Employment Law: What Does It Cover?
Employment and labor laws cover a vast area of law that governs the duties and rights of both employees and employers. Employment laws are based on federal and state constitutions, court opinions, administrative rules, and legislation. However, some employment relationships are governed by contracts too.
At FBD Law, we represent clients who have been the victim of:
- Wrongful Termination
- Retaliatory Discharge
- Unfair Labor Practices (e.g. Denial of Overtime and Wages, Equal Pay)
- Discrimination (e.g. Age, Color, Race, National Origin, Sex, Harassment, Religion, and Disability)
- Harassment (e.g. Sexual Harassment, Hostile Work Environment)
The Most Common Types of Workplace Discrimination
It is illegal in the United States to discriminate against a job applicant or employee on the basis of national origin, age, disability, color, religion, sex, or race. Unfortunately, some employers do exactly that, thus creating a hostile and inequitable workplace where some employees are treated more favorably compared to others.
Workplace discrimination can take a variety of forms, including:
- Firing an employee based on a protected category
- Refusal to hire an individual on the basis of the color of their skin or race
- Refusal to promote a qualified and competent female employee in favor of a male worker with far less experience
- Refusal to offer equal training opportunities for workers of different religious backgrounds.
What Is Considered Workplace Harassment?
If an employee is subjected to assaults, verbal/physical conduct of a sexual nature, slurs, ridicule, unsolicited sexual advances, threats, or offensive jokes, he/she is experiencing workplace harassment. Just like discrimination, workplace harassment creates an intimidating and abusive work environment.
Here are some examples of workplace harassment:
- Using racial slurs or epithets
- Making unsolicited comments about a worker’s appearance or body
- Telling a coworker a vulgar or sexual joke
- Making a prejudicial statement about a worker’s birthplace or heritage
- Making negative comments or jokes about the age of an employee over 40-years old
- Making prejudicial statements about the sexual orientation of an employee
- Making negative comments about the religious beliefs of a worker.
Workplace harassment can also come in the form of quid quo pro harassment. It is when harassment leads to an intangible change in the employment status of a worker. For instance, an employee may be forced to keep enduring sexual harassment from superiors as a condition of continued employment.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination refers to when an employee/worker is fired for reasons that are illegal or unlawful under federal or New Mexico law. Reasons that can be considered wrongful termination include getting fired for not being willing to commit a crime when asked by an employer, being a whistleblower, or complaining about workplace issues.
Discrimination may also be regarded as wrongful termination if employees are fired on the basis of color, race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or age.
If you are an employee that has been fired in these situations, you may be eligible to claim wrongful termination:
- Constructive discharge
- Violation of company policy
- Violation of public policy
- Refusal to commit an illegal act
- Breach of contract
If you have reason to believe that you have been discriminated against or haven’t been treated according to the law or company policy, it is important to note that the United States Department of Labor provides legal information on all laws regulating employment as well as advice on where and how to file your claim. The National Labor Relations Board can be of assistance if you are in a union.
In most cases, you can file a lawsuit against a former employer who wrongfully terminated your services. If you are the unfortunate victim of workplace discrimination or any other type of wrongdoing, you need to contact a dependable law firm with experience handling employment and labor laws. Something worth noting, however, is that you must file a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New Mexico Human Rights Division before filing a suit in New Mexico.
If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, you should consider hiring a lawyer’s services and have them represent your interests.
To schedule a free initial consultation with our employment lawyers for trusted legal counsel and representation in Rio Rancho, call FBD Law at (505) 305-1263 today.
What Industries in the United States Have the Most Overtime and Minimum Wage Violations?
Violations of New Mexico or federal labor laws can happen in any size company or industry, whether they are due to errors or intentional wrongdoing. Still, there are some industries where wage issues and complaints are reported frequently due to industry practices. The following are some of the top violators when it comes to industry-wide wage and overtime issues:
- The cleaning and janitorial industry
- The food and hospitality industry
- The healthcare industry
What Is Employee Misclassification?
Several differences exist between self-employed workers, also referred to as independent contractors or consultants, and employees. The key differences between the two are that employees are told when and where to work, are entitled to employee benefits, and are guaranteed a regular wage, among other criteria.
Independent contractors, on the other hand, work on a contract basis, often short-term, and are billed for the services they offer. Independent contractors are not entitled to employee benefits and have to withhold and file taxes.
It is important to note that some employers may abuse classification by misclassifying bona fide workers as contractors in an attempt to circumvent the laws and save money.
Examples of misclassification include:
- Misclassification of workers to avoid paying the minimum wage
- Misclassification of an employee as a consultant so that the company does not have to comply with the EEOC guidelines that are designed to prevent employment discrimination
- Misclassification of an employee to avoid signing them up in a health benefits plan
What Does Employer Retaliation Mean?
Employer retaliation refers to when an employer castigates an employee for engaging in legally-protected activities and includes negative job actions such as demotion, job or shift reassignment, firing, discipline, or salary reduction. It is important to note that it can be subtle too.
The actions of an employer are sometimes clearly negative, such as when they fire an employer. It is not so clear, however, in some instances. In such instances, according to the Supreme Court of the United States, it is important to consider the circumstances. Let’s take the example of a job shift change. While it may not necessarily be objectionable to most employees, it may be detrimental to an individual with children and a restricted schedule.
While the law might protect employees against retaliation, that still doesn’t prevent employers from punishing/penalizing employees that file grievances. Here are some of the ways that employers may punish workers:
- Salary reductions
- Demoting individuals that file complaints
- Reassigning the person to a less desirable job
- Reassigning the person that leads to family-work conflict
- Exclusion from essential work-related activities such as training
What Should I Do If I’m Denied Leave of Absence by an Employer?
New Mexico has its own state laws governing when employees are allowed to go on leave, but there are several federally-mandated laws aimed at protecting employees that must take extended periods off from their work.
Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers are obligated to offer unpaid leave time to employees with individual or qualifying family medical situation, such as leave to care for a loved one suffering from a severe health condition or the birth or adoption of a baby. Qualified employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave time without risking their job.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), assures certain protections to both current and former uniformed service members that might need to be absent from regular civilian employment for some time to serve in the military.
If you think that your employer intentionally denied you leave of absence or demoted, fired, or retaliated against you after taking a leave of absence, be sure to consult with a lawyer for counsel on your best course of action. Contact FBD Law today and speak to our trusted employment law attorneys for direction and advice.
Let FBD Law’s Attorneys Handle Your Employment Law Case
FBD Law has a team of experienced labor and employment lawyers who have helped thousands of workers pursue labor and employment claims over the years. Besides successfully representing victims in employment and labor claims, our firm also represents workers before administrative agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, and the New Mexico Human Rights Division.
If a coworker or employer has mistreated you in any way, you should not hesitate to contact our office. FBD Law is here to help you understand your rights as an employee and represent you in a court of law, should the need ever arise, to make sure that your best interests are met. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with the competent and professional employment law attorneys serving Rio Rancho, call FBD Law today at (505) 305-1263.