As workers are going about their daily duties, they should feel safe wherever they happen to be. Sadly, workers are sometimes subjected to illegal and unfair treatment by their employers. Workers have rights, but they may be too scared to speak out because they do not want to face retaliation. Unfair employment practices may lead to lost wages, undue stress, lost benefits, and missed opportunities to advance.
Unfair labor practices and discrimination against workers can happen in many ways, including wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, denial of leave, refusing to provide reasonable accommodations, wage violations, and of course retaliation by their employers. Workers that become victimized by these and other unlawful practices may be afraid to speak out against their employers or might not know about their rights.
At FBD Law, we have many ways of handling civil litigation cases focused on illegal employment actions and unfair labor practices against workers. Our attorneys have a great deal of knowledge, experience, and dedication which has allowed many victimized employees to properly deal with labor disputes. If you believe that you have been unfairly treated, or treated illegally, you can call (505) 842-9960 to schedule a free consultation with an employment law attorney serving Roswell.
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Employment Law: What Does This Mean?
Employment and labor laws cover the rights and duties of employers and workers.
Most of the governing laws are specifically designed to help workers that are not being treated fairly and to ensure that workers also remain safe wherever they are on the job. Employment laws are based upon federal and state constitutions, court opinions, administrative rules, and legislation. Employment relationships may also be governed by contracts that may need to be discussed.
The employment law attorneys at FBD law are very experienced, and we can help individuals that need representation or just legal counsel.
At FBD Law, we can represent people that have been victimized as a result of:
- Discrimination (e.g. disability, religion, sex, national origin, race, color, and age)
- Wrongful Termination
- Retaliatory Discharge
- Harassment (e.g., hostile work environment, sexual harassment)
- Unfair Labor Practices (e.g., equal pay, denial of wages, and overtime)
Discriminatory Practices in the Workplace
In America, it is completely illegal to discriminate against a job applicant, or an employee, because of their national origin, age, color, disability, sex, religion, or race. Under New Mexico law, these protections are further expanded. Unfortunately, many employers still engage in unlawful discrimination, and this creates a hostile and inequitable work environment where some employees will be more favorably treated.
When you experience discrimination within the workplace, this can take many forms including:
- Refusing to promote a competent and qualified female employee in favor of a male worker with lesser experience
- Refusing to provide equal opportunities for workers of different religious backgrounds
- Firing an employee based on a protected category
- Enforcing job eligibility criteria that intentionally screen out individuals with disabilities
- Refusing to hire or promote a person based on their race or color of their skin
Common Forms of Workplace Harassment
Workplace harassment is when an employee is physically, verbally, or sexually assaulted. Workplace harassment may include offensive jokes, unsolicited sexual advances, threats, slurs, ridicule, and comments of a sexual nature. Like dealing with discrimination, harassment creates an intimidating and abusive work environment.
Examples of this type of harassment include:
- Making negative comments about a worker’s religious beliefs
- Making jokes or negative comments about the age of worker over 40-years old
- Making unsolicited comments about a worker’s body or appearance
- Making prejudicial statements about an employee’s sexual orientation
- Telling a sexual or vulgar joke to a coworker
- Using racial epithets or slurs
- Making prejudicial statements about a worker’s family heritage or birthplace
Certain types of harassment can also be related to a quid pro quo. The worker’s employment status can become entangled in tolerating harassment. An example of this would be someone forced to endure any type of sexual harassment, especially from superiors, if they want to continue working for them.
An Overview of Wrongful Termination
When a worker or employee is wrongfully terminated, this means they have been fired in a way that violates federal or New Mexico law.
If, for example, discrimination played a role in your being fired, your dismissal can be considered wrongful termination. Wrongful termination also encompasses dismissals where a company goes against its own clearly laid-out guidelines for termination or where a dismissal violates public policy.
Wrongful termination can also have other motives. You might be fired because you are not willing to commit a crime that your employer has asked you to do. Or they may fire you because they believe you have been complaining about certain workplace issues, especially if you are a whistleblower.
Discrimination can be looked at as a form of wrongful termination if people are fired because of their sexual orientation, sex, gender, age, nationality, color, race, or religion.
If you’ve been dismissed under the following circumstances, you might have grounds for a wrongful termination claim:
- Refusing to commit an illegal act
- Company policy is violated
- Breach of contract
- Public policy is violated
- Constructive discharge
You can contact the US State Department of Labor which regulates employment laws, and they can also provide you with advice on how you can file a claim regarding this situation. If you happen to be part of the union, you can contact the National Labor Relations Board for help.
Most of the time, you have the option to file a lawsuit against a former employer that wrongfully fired you. You should note that if you want to pursue a discrimination lawsuit in New Mexico, you must first file a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New Mexico Human Rights Division.
If you believe that you were unlawfully terminated in Roswell, you should work with an experienced employment law attorney at FBD Law.
Call (505) 842-9960 to set up your free consultation appointment so that you can get legal counsel from individuals that you can trust.
American Industries With The Most Overtime And Minimum Wage Complaints
Whatever the industry or size of a company, employers are supposed to follow federal and New Mexico labor laws. Wage and hour violations can happen anywhere, usually due to errors or some type of intentional wrongdoing. However, some industries have more issues than others. The following are the very top violators when it comes to wage problems and industrywide overtime:
- The food and hospitality industry
- The healthcare industry
- The cleaning and janitorial industry
Understanding Employee Misclassification
There are many differences when looking at self-employed workers, sometimes called independent contractors or consultants, and employees. The primary differences are that employees are told when to go to work and where, plus they are entitled to employee benefits, a regular wage, and many other benefits. This is in contrast to independent contractors who are only going to work on a short-term basis and are billed for any type of services that they offer. Independent consultants do not have any guarantee of employee benefits. Additionally, they must withhold and file taxes.
It should also be noted that some employers can abuse this classification by simply misclassifying actual workers as contractors in an attempt to save money.
Some examples of misclassification are:
- Misclassifying workers to avoid paying the minimum wage
- 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)
Understanding What Employer Retaliation Means
Employer retaliation is when an employer penalizes a worker for engaging in activities that are legally protected. It includes negative consequences for the employee’s job like discipline, salary reductions, job reassignments, demotions, or being fired. You should also note that they can be very subtle in how they retaliate against you.
Some circumstances are unquestionably negative, for example, when they fire a worker. There are other times where it is essential to look at the circumstances. For instance, a job shift change might not pose a problem for some workers but could be very detrimental to an employee who has a restricted schedule because of child-care responsibilities.
Employees are legally protected from protected retaliation, but it still doesn’t stop some employers from punishing or penalizing workers who have filed a complaint. Examples of how employers punish workers include:
- Reducing their salary
- Demoting the individual who filed a complaint
- Re-assigning them to a less-desirable job
- Excluding them from essential work-related activities like training sessions
- Re-assigning them to a shift that leads to a family-work conflict
What If My Employer Doesn’t Allow Me to Take a Leave Of Absence?
New Mexico has state laws concerning when employees may go on leave, along with several federal laws that protect workers who take extended time off. The Family Medical Leave Act states that employers must provide unpaid leave time to workers for certain family or medical reasons, such as caring for a loved one with a severe health condition or if they recently gave birth or adopted a baby. If you do qualify, you can get up to 12 weeks of this type of unpaid leave without risking your job.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA, gives certain protections to both current and former uniformed service members that may need to be absent from work for some time to serve in the military.
If your employer has purposefully denied you a leave of absence, or if they fired or demoted you because you took one, they can be held accountable for their decisions. The skilled attorneys at FDB Law can advise you on what to do.
Review Your Employment Law Case With FBD Law’s Attorneys
The attorneys at FBD Law specialize in employment and labor law cases and have helped thousands of workers to pursue claims. Our team will also be there to represent you before agencies such as the New Mexico Human Rights Division, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
If a coworker or employer has mistreated you in some way, you should reach out to us immediately. That is because here at FDB Law, we understand your rights and can represent you in court to ensure that all of your needs are met. Call (505) 842-9960 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation with one of our professional and competent employment law attorneys serving Roswell.