ABC’s of Employment Law – Part 1
Just like a toddler learns the ABC’s, there is some basic vocabulary in employment law that can be learned and used to discuss employment law situations. Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing some of that vocabulary and explaining some employment law basics for anyone who is interested. If you have any questions about any of this, or have a potential employment law claim you would like to discuss, please call Gold Star Law for more information.
A is for adverse action- a negative action taken against an employee, such as firing someone, demoting them, cutting pay or hours, or not doing something positive such as hiring or promoting.
B is for backpay- payment for work that has already been earned but not yet paid. For example, if you were entitled to overtime pay and did not receive it, you could sue your employer for the amount that you should have been paid and have not yet received, which would be considered “backpay.” Backpay can also be used to refer to money that an employee did not earn or receive because of an employer’s wrongful action. For example, if you were wrongfully terminated in violation of the law, they money you were not paid because you were not employed and would have earned if you had not been fired could be called “backpay.”
C is for “cause of action”- the basis for a lawsuit. To bring a lawsuit against your employer, you must articulate a “cause of action,” meaning a specific way in which the employer has done something illegal. For example, if your employer fired you because of your race, sexually harassed you, or failed to properly pay you for all hours worked, you would have a “cause of action” for that wrongdoing and could pursue a lawsuit to enforce your legal rights. However, some unfair things that happen in an employment situation do not create a situation in which you have a legal basis to demand money or any other remedy, in which case you would not have a “cause of action” upon which to start a lawsuit.
D is for discrimination– Michigan and federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees by denying them equal treatment or taking any sort of adverse action (see letter “A”) against them based on a protected status (see letter “P”.)
E is for exemption- certain employees are NOT entitled to minimum wage (see letter “M”) and/or overtime pay (see letter “O”) under the Fair Labor Standards Act (see letter “F”) based on the type of work they do and other criteria. Common exemptions include the executive exemption, the administrative exemption, the professional exemption, and the motor carrier exemption.
F is for Fair Labor Standards Act– a federal law that entitles most employees to at least minimum wage (see letter “M”) for all hours worked at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week (see letter “O”), subject to certain exceptions called “exemptions” (see letter “E”.)
G is for Gold Star Law- YOUR firm for employment law. If you believe that you may have an employment law dispute, call Gold Star Law. The call is completely free and completely confidential, so you have nothing to lose. Our employment law attorneys will evaluate your situation and let you know whether there is anything we can do to help you.