EMPLOYMENT LAW

 

Discrimination

Federal law and the laws of many states prohibit most employers from basing employment decisions on a person’s race, color, age, sex/gender (including pregnancy), religion, or national origin. 

With respect to disability, a disability is defined as affecting a major life function. An employer is obligated to make a reasonable accommodation for a qualified and capable worker, such as giving more flexible hours, providing a work space closer to a restroom, or providing better lighting and magnification lenses. 

                 

Examples of employment decisions include:  hiring, promotions, discipline, compensation, benefits (like vacation time), assignments, suspension, and termination.

                 

A claim under federal law must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discriminatory event.  The EEOC will typically investigate the claim, give the employer the opportunity to respond, and may make a finding.  Sometimes the EEOC will conduct a mediation between the employee and employer in an effort to resolve the claim prior to making any finding.

Often the EEOC makes no finding as to whether or not the employer violated the law.  It issues a “right to sue” letter.  The employee has only 90 days to file a lawsuit after receiving the letter.  There are no extensions.

                 

Ronan Esq. gets involved in employment discrimination cases early, to give employers the opportunity to correct their action.  Where necessary, Ronan Esq. will help clients take cases to the EEOC and to court.

 

Retaliation

Under federal law and the law of many states, employers may not retaliate against an employee who brings a complaint or aid in the investigation of a complaint by another employee for a wrongful employment practice.  (Employees must be honest in their participation and conduct themselves in good faith when they bring claims.)

 

Retaliation is when an employer demotes, disciplines, terminates, or otherwise negatively changes the conditions of the work place for that protected worker.  Examples may include giving the worker a shift where the worker cannot earn good tips to try to make the worker quit, disciplining the worker for minor infractions that are ignored when others do them, etc.

 

Retaliation claims must be brought before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days.  The EEOC will typically investigate the claim, give the employer the opportunity to respond, and may make a finding.  Sometimes the EEOC will conduct a mediation between the employee and employer in an effort to resolve the claim prior to making any finding.

 

Often the EEOC makes no finding as to whether or not the employer violated the law.  It issues a “right to sue” letter.  The employee has only 90 days to file a lawsuit after receiving the letter.  There are no extensions.

 

Ronan Esq. gets involved in retaliation cases early, to give employers the opportunity to correct their action.  Where necessary, Ronan Esq. will help clients take cases to the EEOC and to court.

 

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.  Additionally, sexual harassment includes insults and offensive comments about a gender in general.  The harassing behavior must be sever or widespread.

Sexual harassment can be committed by members of the same sex or opposite sex.  For example, there are cases of men being sexually harassed by other men because they are considered effeminate or not macho enough.  For many, this is called bullying or a hostile work environment, but legally it can fall within the definition of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment claims must be brought before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days.  The EEOC will typically investigate the claim, give the employer the opportunity to respond, and may make a finding.  Sometimes the EEOC will conduct a mediation between the employee and employer in an effort to resolve the claim prior to making any finding.

Often the EEOC makes no finding as to whether or not the employer violated the law.  It issues a “right to sue” letter.  The employee has only 90 days to file a lawsuit after receiving the letter.  There are no extensions.

Ronan Esq. gets involved in sexual harassment cases early, to give employers the opportunity to correct the hostile workplace.  Where necessary, Ronan Esq. will help clients take cases to the EEOC and to court.

 

Employment Contracts & Wage Claims​

Most employees do not have employment contracts.  They are “at will” employees who may be hired or fired at any time, for any reason as long as that reason is not a violation of law (such as discrimination based on race).

 

Employees do have a right to be paid for all their work.  The Fair Labor Standards Act sets a minimum hourly wage for many workers, and requires that overtime be paid if the worker exceeds 40 hours of work in a week.

 

In Arizona, wages include hourly pay, commissions, and earned non-discretionary bonuses.  If an employer fails to pay all wages to an employee, Arizona law allows the employee to collect up to three times the amount of unpaid wages.  There are very few reasons that an employer can ever withhold wages from an employee when the employee has already done the work.

 

Executives and professionals sometimes have written employment contracts.  It is important to review such contracts with an attorney before signing them.

 

Even if an employee does not have a written employment agreement, he or she may have held a position with a company for many years.  In such cases, a severance agreement may be appropriate when the company and employee decide to part ways.  An attorney can help negotiate and draft such an agreement. 

 

Ronan Esq. supports the dignity of work, and believes all workers should be fairly compensated.

 

Non-competition Agreements / Restrictive Covenants

Many employers use non-competition agreements and confidentiality requirements to limit their employees’ opportunities to work for competitors.  This can mean that employees are stuck at jobs where they are not being promoted or earning the best wages.

 

Generally, courts are suspicious of non-competition agreements.  However, they respect businesses rights to protect their trade secrets.  It is a balance between promoting free commerce and allowing entrepreneurs to benefit from their ideas.

 

But employees also have a right to earn a living, particularly when they are terminated.  If a non-competition agreement is interfering in your ability to earn a living or find an appropriate job, the agreement is probably unenforceable.  A simple court action can have the agreement declared unenforceable.

 

If a former employer threatens you with a lawsuit because of the terms of a non-competition agreement, you will need an attorney to respond quickly and with strength.

 

Ronan Esq. is committed to help make the labor market free and fair by ensuring that workers can take advantage of their skills and job opportunities.

 

Public Employee Due Process

Public employees (those who work for a municipal, state, or the federal government) cannot be disciplined or terminated without first being told the grounds and having a right to respond.  This is called “due process” and is usually set out in an employee handbook.

Often, having an attorney help make the response will result in a better outcome for the employee.  Also, the attorney can make public records requests or freedom of information act requests to determine if proposed discipline is being applied fairly to all employees and is proportionate. 

 

In the event a public employee is wrongfully terminated, the employee can only bring a lawsuit if the employee has fully participated in each stage of the process to challenge termination.  It is important to be proactive.

Ronan Esq. is committed to helping all employees receive a fair shake.

Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FLMA) allows workers to take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave from work if they or a relative has a specified medical issue.  The FLMA guarantees that the worker will be able to return to the same job or a substantially equivalent job at the completion of the leave.

 

If an employer refuses to grant any time off work for medical purposes to care for yourself or a family member, the employer has probably violated the FLMA.

 

If an employer significantly alters your shift, your pay, or the nature of your work when you return from FLMA leave, the employer has probably violated the law.

 

Employees can bring claims in court for lost benefits and wages and exemplary (punitive) damages if an employer violates the FLMA.

 

Ronan Esq. can help ensure that you are granted appropriately documented leave and return to the appropriate position.  Where necessary, Ronan Esq. brings FLMA cases to court.

 

Ronan Esq. is committed to helping all employees receive a fair shake.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

RETURN TO

PRACTICE AREAS

Patricia E Ronan Law LLC
PO Box 55341
Phoenix, AZ 85078-5341

 

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