Employment law is a collection of federal and state regulations and statutes governing the employer/employee relationship. Many of these laws were enacted to protect the rights of workers. Here's a list of terms commonly used in employment law.
Accessible: Refers to making it possible for disabled persons to easily enter a building, operate equipment or otherwise perform their job functions independently. Affirmative action: Taking steps to increase employment of certain groups of people.
Back pay: Damages awarded to restore the money an employee would have earned had the employer not acted illegally. Usually awarded after a wrongful termination suit or an unlawful denial of promotion.
Cafeteria plan: A type of benefit plan in which employers provide a “menu" of available benefits from which employees may create their own package, usually up to a predetermined dollar amount.
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA): A federal law requiring most employers to give employees the option to continue their group health coverage after leaving or losing a job.
Collective bargaining: A discussion between an employer and the union representing its workers. The talks lead to formation of a collective bargaining agreement, which is a contract between the employer and union members detailing the terms of the relationship, including wages, hours and conditions under which the contract can be broken.
Disability/Disabled: Refers to impairments, either physical or mental, that limit major life activities such as seeing or walking.
Discrimination: Unfair treatment of or action taken against a person based solely on arbitrary criteria, such as age, race, religion or gender.
Employment at will doctrine: The concept that, absent a contract, either side in the employer/employee relationship may end the relationship at any time and for any reason.
Equal employment opportunity: The right to not face discrimination in hiring, firing or any other terms of employment due to arbitrary criteria like sex, age, race or disability.
Equal Pay Act: A federal law that prohibits paying different wages for the same job based on gender.
Family Medical Leave Act: A federal law requiring most employers to allow employees to take unpaid leave for certain family or medical reasons.
Hostile working environment: A work environment that interferes with the ability of employees to perform their jobs effectively. Often caused by persistent unwanted behavior, such as sexual harassment.
Implied contract: An unwritten agreement that is implicitly understood due to the actions or words of the other party. An implied contract is legally enforceable.
Minimum wage: A pay rate, set by law, that is the lowest amount most employers are allowed to pay their employees.
Mitigation: Actions taken by an employee who was the victim of illegal employment practices that may reduce the amount of damages awarded.
Noncompetition agreement: A contract in which an employee agrees not to engage in any activities that would compete with the employer for a specified time. This includes both accepting employment with a competitor or setting up a new business that would be in direct competition.
Pension: A retirement plan that pays, for life, a set monthly amount to a worker after retirement.
Reduction in force: An employer’s plan to cut its workforce.
Retaliation: Actions taken by an employer to punish workers who seek protection under employment laws.
Right to work doctrine: State laws barring the requirement of union membership as a condition of employment.
Severance package: An agreement detailing any additional pay and benefits an employee will receive upon leaving the company.
Sexual harassment: Offensive and unwanted conduct towards a worker based on the worker’s gender.
Tuition reimbursement: A benefit offered by some employers in which the employer pays some or all of an employee’s tuition for continuing education.
Termination: The ending of a worker’s employment with a company. It may be voluntary or involuntary.
Whistle blowing: The reporting of an employer’s illegal actions to the proper authorities by an employee.
Criminal charges for harassment Employment Employee wages and severance pay Employee benefits Employee retirement benefits Discrimination in the workplace Sexual harassment Protections against employer retaliation Sick leave and work hours Termination of employment Wrongful termination of employment Types of employment At-will employment Discrimination