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What is Employment Law

Employment law includes the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of employer and employee. It ranges from hiring to compensation to workplace safety to discrimination and wrongful termination. Employment lawyers typically represent either employers or employees, but rarely both.

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Do I Need an Employment Lawyer

The best time to hire an employment lawyer is the first time you think about it. An employment lawyer can give you clear and open advice about your legal rights and options. If you wait too long to hire an employment attorney, you may limit your legal options. Or, the statute of limitations could expire and leave you with no options at all – no case. There are several stages of the employment relationship when you should hire a lawyer.

Outset of Employment. When you start a new job, you may be asked to sign any of a number of legal documents – employment contracts, arbitration agreements, non-compete agreements, intellectual property assignments, and confidentiality agreements. Often these are long, complex instruments with numerous legal implications. If you do receive these sorts of documents, press the “time out” button. Have your attorney review the documents. Even if you can’t negotiate those documents, at least your attorney can explain what you are signing and how it will affect you when you move from that job to the next.

During Employment. You may need an attorney while employed if you feel you are being harassed or discriminated against because of your race, age, gender, national origin, disability, religion, or some other characteristic protected by law. For example, you may feel you are the victim of sexual harassment or that you are paid less than other employees not in a protected category. Some treatment by employers is unfair, but not be illegal. An employment law attorney with you whether the treatment has crossed the line from unfair to illegal.

End of Employment. If you are fired and you believe discrimination or retaliation may be the reason, consult an employment lawyer to see if you have a claim. It is even prudent, if you are laid off and receive a severance package, to have counsel assist you in reviewing the proposed package so you know what it is all about.

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