Employment lawyers concern themselves with the wide-ranging field of employment law that governs the way employers must treat their workers, erstwhile employees, and candidates for employment-this includes all aspects of the employment relationship except negotiation and collective bargaining procedure, which are governed by labor law. Employment law covers a great diversity of topics such as pension plans, retirement, occupational safety & health directives, affirmative action, inequality in the workplace and sexual harassment. Employment lawyers can educate companies on ways of reducing their risk of employment lawsuits and on compliance with state and local regulations. They are also able to help in the protection employees whose rights have been violated.
Labor laws were conceived to balance the negotiating power between employers and workers – preventing businesses and unions from doing specific "unfair labor practices" and finding a duty of both parties to deal with each other in good faith collective bargaining. Labor lawyers primarily assist with the legal aspect of the relationship between businesses and unions. Labor laws afford workers the right to unionize and make it possible for employers and workers to take part in specific activities (eg, strikes, protests, seeking injunctions and lockouts) that aim at having their demands met.
To summarize, labor and employment lawyers assist businesses with the following:
- Examining client employee handbooks, instruction booklets, and policy statements.
- Helping with federal and state wage and hour law matters and arguments.
- Standing for companies before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state human rights groups.
- Giving recommendations on matters concerning National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation elections as well as campaign support.
- Standing for companies in unjust labor practice trial before the National Labor Relations Board and state labor organizations.
- Providing representation for complaint and arbitration hearsings under collective bargaining agreements.
- Collective bargaining on behalf of clients including strategic planning and serving as representative.
- Counseling on matters concerning strikes or lockouts, and giving relevant litigation support.