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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Employment law continues to be a sore point for companies and employees alike

Employment law is a facet of the law industry that, quite frankly, is too often overlooked or underestimated (sometimes both). Anyone holding down a career is familiar with what can sometimes feel like massive challenges on the road to professional longevity and success. Whether you are an employee trying to take the company you work for to court for an employment lawsuit, or a company fighting back against said lawsuit (and vice versa), it is abundantly clear that employment law is a bracket of the wider law industry that deserves far more attention to detail than it gets. Too often, employment laws are either not made clear enough, or are blatantly ignored. This inevitably causes problems for both companies and employees alike, when they (intentionally or not) run into legal problems in their professional workplace. From accidental incidents on company grounds, to ongoing cases of sexual (or otherwise) misconduct, employment lawsuits are one of the most commonly seen lawsuits in the US (and the rest of the western world, for that matter).

As an employee navigating the somewhat complex nature of employment law can be overwhelming, to say the least. While many employees enjoy long-standing careers without incident, there are those who are unlucky enough to unfortunately have to come face to face with employment law. Whether you are managing a claim for any eye injury you obtained on the job, or filing a lawsuit for sexual misconduct (or any other manner of employment lawsuits, for that matter), or you are the accused in an employment lawsuit filed against you, it is incredibly important to understand your rights and the position you have found yourself in. Being able to cover yourself and have a capable grasp of what is happening gives you wiggle room to be able to adequately handle the situation throughout the process, rather than grasping at straws later down the line.

For companies, on the other hand, it can be difficult to handle the process as well. In some instances, a company is the accused in an employment lawsuit, and in other instances, they are the accuser. Regardless of which side they side of the lawsuit in question, it is imperative that they have both their human resources team and their company lawyers help them to handle the proceedings from the onset. This is especially true in cases where the company is being taken to court for inadequate handling of employment law procedures and systems. It is a known fact that companies that are involved in employment lawsuits, no matter which side they are on in said lawsuits, incur more substantial legal costs than the individuals who are on the other side of the proceedings (for the most part, of course). So, it is of crucial importance that companies are aware of and adhere to all relevant employment laws not only if or when they do get into trouble, but well beforehand. It is always better to be over-prepared than underprepared.

The most common employment lawsuits tend to come out of the woodwork in response to inadequate handling of background checks on employees, the absence of employment agreements, inadequate documentation of terminations from the company, and the refusal to acknowledge and adhere to any relevant employment laws. The sticky process of navigating employment law on either side, in any capacity, requires companies and employees alike to be aware of the processes and systems that get them into circumstances that force them to confront employment laws straight up. The refusal to do so can and often does unfortunately have significant negative consequences, and it ends up with a whole lot of back and forth that, frankly, is not necessary at all. Employment laws are serious, and they are there for a reason. So, adhere to them from the beginning, and avoid the drama.

Employment law is one of the most misunderstood branches of law there is, from all angles. Regardless of if you are an employee, an employer, or a company, there is no shortage of incidents that could potentially incur an employment lawsuit. Over the years, this has become more and more of an issue, and today it is one of the most commonly sought after types of lawsuits there is around the world. That is why it is fundamentally important, no matter which party you happen to be in the professional setting you work in, that you familiarise yourself with and build a genuine understanding of the employment laws relevant to you (and your employees and company, if you are your own boss). Failure to do so can lead to some significantly lengthy and problematic legal issues, which can be dragged out over a series of months, depending on the general nature and severity of the employment lawsuit itself. It pays to cover yourself – in every sense – including, and especially, in the workplace.

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