Historically, employer-employee relationships were governed by private agreement. Laws with broad applicability to such relationships were first enacted in the early part of the twentieth century. Initially, such laws sought to regulate the use of child labor across all industries and to provide workers compensation for on-the-job injuries for which employees could not recover in tort.
It is hard to imagine by today’s standards, but according to the U.S. Census of 1900, at the turn of the century, six percent of the nation’s work force was comprised of children ages 10-15; and there was no safety net for workers who suffered debilitating workplace injuries for which they could not sue. New York was the first state to enact workers’ compensation laws in 1910. It would take another four decades for such laws to be enacted in all (then 48) states.
In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, prohibiting wage differentials based on sex; and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. Additional classes of employees are afforded protection by more recent federal legislation, as well as state and local laws and regulations.
The earliest statutes addressing workplace safety were enacted by the states and focused on practices in specific industries, initially mining and railroads. Comprehensive federal regulations were not enacted until the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970.
Today, there are literally hundreds of federal, state, and municipal laws and regulations affecting just about every aspect of the employer-employee relationship.
Because the law and rules affecting employment are more complex than ever before, employers and employees turn to lawyers for sound legal advice on a wide range of employment issues, including negotiating the terms of employment agreements, addressing on-the-job behavior, and complying with laws affecting levels of compensation, time off, and appropriate employer and employee conduct from hiring to firing (and beyond).
The attorneys at Lynch Daskal Emery LLP represent individuals and companies in negotiating employment and separation agreements, advising on lawful employer and employee conduct, employment litigation, and enforcement actions. We also serve as outside employment counsel to several companies, advising on a variety of policy, wage, and business practices issues.