Employment and Labor Relations Legal Terms

AAt Will
If you are employed on an “at will” basis, this means that you or your employer can terminate your job for any or no reason, at any time, and with or without notice, so long as the termination does not violate any laws. Unless an employee has an employment agreement stating that employment is for a fixed duration and can only be terminated for specified reasons, or the employee is subject to a collective bargaining agreement, the employee is most likely employed on an at-will basis.
The process by which federal bankruptcy courts help consumers and businesses in financial trouble to eliminate some debts or repay them under the protection of bankruptcy courts.
Better Business Bureau
(BBB) is an organization that helps to settle disputes between consumers and businesses; provides “business reliability reports”; reviews charities; and provides consumer and business education.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the federal law that allows employees, spouses, and dependent children to continue participating in group health insurance plans, at the employee’s expense, when the employer has 20 or more employees, after a “qualifying event” that causes the employee (or dependents) to lose group health coverage. Qualifying events for employees may be a reduction in number of hours worked or termination for reasons other than gross misconduct. Employee coverage may continue for up to 18 months. For spouses or dependent children, COBRA qualifying events may include any of the employee events in addition to employee divorce, death, or eligibility for Medicare. Spouse/dependent child COBRA coverage can continue up to 36 months. Employees of companies with less than 20 employees who participated in a company’s group health plan may be eligible for up to six months of continuation coverage under applicable state laws.
FFair Debt Collection Practices Act
(FDCPA), is a law within the Consumer Credit Protection Act, related to protecting consumers from debt collection abuse or mistaken debt information. The act provides rules that collection agents must follow when attempting to collect a debt and gives consumers rights related to the collection of debts.
Family and Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave with continued medical benefits and restoration of their original position when they return. Employers and employees both have specific rights and responsibilities during an FMLA-qualifying leave. Because FMLA leave can be a life-changing event with long-term ramifications for your career, you may wish to consult with a labor and employment attorney before beginning a leave to understand your rights and responsibilities. Employers who must offer FMLA are all federal, state, and local governments and agencies (including public and private schools) and private employers with 50 or more employees for 20 weeks per calendar year. Employees are eligible if they have worked for the same employer for the previous 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during that time. Leave is granted to employees who can provide medical documentation to support that the leave is needed due to the birth or adoption of a child, the employee’s serious health condition, or the serious health condition of the employee’s immediate family members. The term “serious health condition” is often misunderstood, and you should consult your employee handbook or talk to your Human Resources representative if you are unsure whether you qualify for the protection of the FMLA when needing a leave.
Federal Trade Commission
An agency of the United States government whose mission is to promote the protection of consumers against deceptive or unfair business practices and to stop or prevent anti-competitive business practices.
The attempt to settle a legal dispute with the help of a mediator who works to find points of agreement and get those in conflict to agree on a fair result. Mediators can be professionals (judges or lawyers) or mediation agencies can provide trained and experienced mediation assistance. Mediation is usually less costly than settling a dispute in court but mediation doesn’t always result in a settlement.
NNon-Compete Clause
A phrase that is sometimes included in employment contracts restricting the amount of time during which a former employee promises not to directly compete with the company after leaving that company. In addition to non-compete provisions, other restrictive covenants, as they are sometimes called, include non-solicitation provisions, in which employees agree not to contact customers or co-workers for a pre-determined amount of time following employment, and non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements, in which employees agree to protect the confidentiality of information that the company has developed and made available to employees to aid them in performing their jobs.
PProtected Class
Characteristics that lawmakers have specifically protected from discrimination. The characteristics most often considered protected are age; race and color; national origin; sex, pregnancy; disability; religion, veteran status and disability. Some states and cities have further created protection against sexual discrimination to include protection against sexual orientation discrimination.
WWrongful Termination
Describes situations where employment is terminated for illegal or discriminatory reasons that are based on public policies (found in existing laws) designed to protect employees. A termination may be classified as “wrongful” if it is based on age, race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, pregnancy, refusal to commit a crime, taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, or in retaliation for filing a discrimination or safety claim against the employer. You should consult with a qualified labor or employment attorney can advise as to whether your situation constitutes a “wrongful termination.”