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Employment Law 101 is a series designed to give you ideas and help you spot legal issues. It is not a substitute for a good employment lawyer or thorough research. For the most current developments in employment law court cases, try Employment Law Memo - First in Employment Law.

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« Introduction #1 | Main | Employment at-will #3 »

Sources of Employment Law #2
by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Question: What are the sources of employment law? What are the laws that govern the employer and employee? The constitution (federal or state)? Statutes (federal or state)? Administrative regulations (federal or state)? Decisions by administrative agencies (federal or state)? State common law (that is, judge-made law) such as contract and tort law?

Answer: Possibly all of the above.

Employment law is complex. Get a lawyer to help you.

  • American law is complex and often confusing.
  • Employment law is one of the most complex branches of law.
  • There is no one place one can look to find all the laws that might be involved in a specific case.
  • It is a checker-board of state and federal laws, statutes, administrative rules, and "case law" or decisions by courts and administrative agencies.
  • Because employment law is so complex, and usually is different from one state to the next, I recommend that nobody should try to handle an employment law situation without an expert lawyer.
  • If you have a toothache you need a dentist.
  • If you have an employment law problem you need an employment lawyer.

Some sources of employment law to keep in mind. They might not all apply in an individual situation, but often more than one of them will apply.

  • Federal constitution (usually only as to state public sector or federal employees and employers).
  • State constitution (usually only as to state and local government employees and employers).
  • Federal statutes such as Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and so on.
  • State statutes that are similar to the federal statutes. These statutes vary from one state to another. Often state statutes are more favorable to employees than the federal statutes by applying to a greater number of employers, by provide more employee rights, and by providing more generous remedies.
  • Federal administrative regulations or rules adopted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Department of Labor (DOL), and other agencies.
  • State administrative regulations or rules adopted by similar state agencies.
  • Case-by-case decisions by federal and state administrative agencies.
  • State common law (judge made law), especially dealing with contract law and tort law.
  • Federal court decisions.
  • State court decisions.
  • Contracts between employers and employees.
  • Collective bargaining agreements between unions and employers.

Coming next: Employment at-will: Employment Law 101: #3

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