What is a Labor Law Lawyer?
A labor law lawyer is an attorney with special knowledge of labor laws and who takes on clients with union and workplace problems. Lawsuits over labor practices are not that common, but a lawyer can help you remedy the issue through the appropriate channel. They can also help you start or join a collective action against an employer or file an individual lawsuit if it is necessary.
When Do I Need a Labor Law Lawyer?
You may need a labor law if your employer is engaging in unfair labor practices. Worker rights related to organizing, collective bargaining, wages, and hours worked are protected in federal and some state laws. In some cases, you can resolve a situation without a lawyer, but you may need someone to take your side when your employer does not back down.
- Your employer is interfering with organizing efforts or refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith.
- You have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment at work for organizing or joining a union.
- Your employer has tried to coerce or bribe you to prevent your joining a union.
- You are not receiving fair pay, required minimum wage, or overtime pay.
- Your employer is taking your tips or miscalculating overtime pay or hours worked.
- You have not received adequate paid break time or have been required to work early or later without extra pay.
- Your employer classified you as a contractor, but you meet the requirements to be an employee.
What Can a Labor Law Lawyer Do for Me?
How you take action against an employer for labor law violations depends on the law violated and the jurisdiction. There is more than one way to remediate labor violations, and a lawyer who specializes in these cases can help clarify your options, among other things:
- Explain your rights and the laws.
Labor laws can be confusing for anyone without extensive experience in this area of the law. Talking with a lawyer will help you understand your rights and what you can do about work violations.
- File an NLRB complaint.
If your employer has violated your organizing rights, you must file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The process can be lengthy and may require reviews and appeals. A lawyer will help you through it and get you the best outcome.
- Start or join collective action.
For violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which involves wage and time issues, your lawyer can help you find a collective action to join or help you start one. Most lawsuits over these issues involve groups of employees rather than individuals.
- Find an alternative solution.
Sometimes, simply talking to your lawyer is enough to get an employer to stop their unfair labor or wage practices. Your lawyer may be able to work with your company to resolve the issue and get any back pay.
- Recover owed wages.
Many times, unfair labor cases involve wage disputes. An employer may be illegally denying you paid break time, overtime pay, or minimum wage. If they violate the law, they owe you money, and your lawyer can help you get it.
Where Can I Find a Labor Law Lawyer?
Many labor law lawyers work with and represent unions, but you should be able to find someone to represent you as an individual. Hire a lawyer with specific experience in labor cases and laws. The rules governing legal actions over labor issues are specialized and different from other types of cases.
A search of lawyers specializing in labor laws and advocating for employees should turn up several options. Sit down with a few attorneys and get your questions answered before hiring anyone:
- Do you represent employers or employees?
- What do you think about my situation? Is my employer breaking the law?
- Is my employer exempt from the laws?
- Have you worked with clients in similar situations before, and what were the outcomes?
- Can you provide references from past clients?
- How would you proceed with my case?
- Do you think I can win and get back wages?
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my case?
How to Work with Your Lawyer
Once you have selected a lawyer to help you, they’ll need information and cooperation. Be honest with your lawyer about everything that has happened. They will keep your information confidential unless you authorize them to use it, so don’t be afraid to say anything you think puts you in a bad light.
Provide your lawyer with information and documentation about your job, your income, hours worked, your contract if you have one, your employer, and any co-workers you think can help and would be willing to contribute.
Working with a labor law lawyer is the best way to ensure your employer doesn’t get away with violating labor laws. They can help you resolve your work dispute, whether that means filing a lawsuit or not.