9 Reasons You Might Need a Lawyer in a Work Context

Lynn Martelli
Lynn Martelli

In a complex and dynamic work environment, legal issues can arise suddenly and unexpectedly. These issues could have potentially serious consequences that impact both employees and employers.

Whether you’re an employer who wants to ensure that their business is protected at all costs from potential threats, or an employee who feels they’ve been mistreated, having a reputable lawyer by your side is imperative. But when and why would you need one? How do you know when an issue has escalated to a legal problem?

Here are just a few examples to consider.

Unlawful Termination

If you feel that you have been wrongfully or unlawfully terminated from your position, you can seek assistance from an attorney to help file a case against your employer.

Unlawful termination refers to any discharge that breaches the employment contract in place. Your employer might have no fair reason for your dismissal, or they may have not followed the correct procedures in your dismissal. It can be tough to determine whether or not your dismissal was unlawful, but this is where a professional can help you understand your rights.

Workplace Safety

Safety in the workplace is of utmost importance, especially in more dangerous industries like construction, any electric work, etc. All workers are entitled to a safe working environment, including protective gear and well-maintained tools, equipment, and machinery, otherwise you will be at risk of an injury.

If this does happen, you might need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to help you understand your compensation rights and file a claim. This will be dependent on the working conditions and other factors, and a legal professional will help you figure out all the details.

Employment Contracts

While there might not necessarily be any specific issues with your employment contract, they’re nonetheless a tricky landscape to navigate, whether you’re an employer or an employee.

With so many considerations in the nature of a contract, it’s crucial that you have an employment attorney involved in the setting up of any employment contracts. It might be a good idea to consult with a lawyer before singing any contracts you’re not certain of, so that they can help you make sense of what you’re agreeing to, and the implications this might have on your job and daily life.

Discrimination or Harassment

Your workplace should be a place of inclusion, where you feel safe and secure. Any form of discrimination based on your gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or other factors will require intervention from a legal professional.

Furthermore, any form of harassment should be reported and dealt with immediately. Any form of unwelcome conduct is considered harassment, especially if it is also based on the aforementioned factors. Unwelcome conduct could be physical, verbal, or even non-verbal in nature – any of these could warrant legal action if they’re making you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Whistle-Blower Protection

Speaking up about an issue at work can be daunting. If you’ve uncovered unethical or illegal practices in your workplace and wish to report what you know, you might worry that you’ll lose your job or face other forms of retaliation.

Fortunately, there are laws in place known as whistle-blower protection laws that will protect you in this scenario. A lawyer will be able to help you understand these laws, your rights, and how to go through the process of safely reporting the misconduct. 

Non-Compete Agreements

If you want to leave your job to work for a competitor company or start your own business in the same industry, you will need to check your employment contract for any non-compete agreements that might be in place. A non-compete agreement is essentially an agreement in place between two parties that prevents certain competitive moves from being made on either side.

You will need a lawyer to review any non-compete agreements to ensure they’re legally enforceable and protect your ability to pursue new opportunities for your career.

Wage or Overtime Disputes

Being paid fair wages is essential in every industry. There are wage and hour laws in place to protect employees from unfair pay and unreasonable working hours. There are set standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, and recordkeeping, depending on which state you work in.

If your wages or the hours you’re working violate any of these set standards, you can enlist the help of an employment attorney to help you review your situation and ensure that you’re receiving the compensation legally due to you.

Family and Medical Leave

Getting the appropriate time off is another work challenge that many people unfortunately face. Leave laws can be challenging to navigate, especially as they pertain to family leave and medical leave.

For maternity leave, and other family and medical leave time, you’ll have a stipulated amount of days available per annum, but this can vary based on your contract as well as state laws. If you feel like you’re not being granted a fair amount of time off, you’ll need to consult with an employment lawyer to go over your contract, your circumstances, and the laws in place.

Employer Compliance

There are, in general, a multitude of laws beyond the ones already discussed in this article that an employer must comply with. If you are an employer and want to ensure that you’re up to standard, you can enlist the help of a legal professional to help you understand your own rights and responsibilities.

Conversely, if you are an employee and you feel that your employer isn’t complying with certain rules and regulations, you can always take this up with an attorney as well.

Final Thoughts

In the intricate and confusing world of employment law, having a reliable and trustworthy professional on your side is a great idea no matter whether you’re an employer or an employee.

Whenever you’re dealing with legalities, asking for advice should be your first line of defence – rather than trying to figure things out on your own or relying on quick online searches to help you understand seriously complex matters.

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