An employment lawyer provides counsel and representation to employers and employees concerning a wide variety of legal issues that often arise in the workplace. The practice areas for employment lawyers include:
- Labor and Employment Law
- Wage and Hour Compliance
- Affirmative Action Plans and EEOC compliance issues
- FMLA/CFRA/Sick Leave Administration
- Employee Handbooks and Personnel Manuals
- Discrimination (age, sex, race, disabilities) in hiring practices and in the workplace
- Harassment (sexual, racial, religious) and hostile work environment complaints
- Wage Claims and Unpaid Wages litigation
- Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities issues
The attorney can participate in all stages of a case, from helping to draft documents such as employee handbooks and personnel manuals, to trying the case in court. The employment lawyer may also be asked to help you with policy and procedure development.
In some cases, the employer’s attorney can also represent employees—for example, in responding to a discrimination claim or if an employee is accused of wrongful termination. An employment lawyer must be able to stand up for his or her client and work on a team as well as alone. In addition to being comfortable working with others on their legal team, an employment lawyer must be able to express the client’s position clearly and persuasively. In court, he or she can present evidence and examine witnesses.
The employment lawyer should have an in-depth understanding of employment laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
An employment lawyer will also be aware of legal trends and precedents that affect workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities. For example, right-to-work laws differ from state to state.
The employment lawyer should have a strong academic record and excellent communication skills, both written and oral. He or she needs the ability to work long hours under pressure. Employment disputes may involve many deadlines, such as those imposed by statutes of limitation for filing claims with agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In court, a trial is scheduled and must begin on time, so an employment lawyer needs to have the reputation for being well-organized.
An employment lawyer must be familiar with legal research tools such as treatises, law reviews, bar association journals, and commercially available legal databases.
The employment lawyer must also be well-versed in the latest office technology available. In addition, good business skills are essential. An employment lawyer must have the ability to manage a large volume of work and employees, keep track of deadlines, and communicate regularly with clients.