What is employment law?

Employment Law or Labor Law concerns the legal relationship between employers and employees. Statutes regarding labor law are found at all levels of government, from federal to state, to city and county. Labor law determines the rights and obligations which arise out of an employment contract.

The law governing the relationship between an employee and an employer begins when an offer for employment is made by an employer to an employee. Labor law regulates the entire relationship between employer and employee—the initial hiring process, job duties, wages, promotions, benefits, employment reviews and termination of the employment relationship.

It also includes litigation on the basis of unfair labor practices and discrimination. According to the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics job bias lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts soared from 6,936 in 1990 to 21,540 in 1998.

Employee Manuals have always been helpful roadmaps of a company's procedures and policies. A well-crafted manual spells out the employment relationship, employee rights, complaint procedures, disciplinary procedures, standards of conduct, and resignation and termination policies. Click here for an article that explains what a manual should include to maximize its value for both employers and employees.

What are the basic terms used to describe the labor relationship?

Employment is defined as the act of engaging in work, the consumption of a person's time and energy to the task at hand in an occupation, profession, trade or business.

Labor has the same basic definition as employment, but labor generally refers to physical or manual labor work.

Employment at will defines an employment relationship wherein either employer or employee can end the relationship without liability; as long as there is the understanding that the employment is at will, either party can terminate employment at any time.

Employee is a person in the service of another. The employment contract can be written, oral or implied. The employee's activities while performing work are subject to the control of the employer.

Employer is a person or entity (such as a partnership or corporation) which obtains the services of another to perform work. The employer provides the means through which the services will be performed (such as providing a place where the work is to be performed and the tools required to get the work done). The employer has direct control over the manner in which the work is to be performed.