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What is Labor Law?


Labor law covers the relationships between businesses and unions such as contracts and collective bargaining agreements. For example, New York Labor Law was established to provide for worker safety under various scenarios. To achieve this, the courts understand its provisions and permit recovery by individuals who become injured due to violations of these statutes.

When the construction industry is involved, the courts impose liability on the parties that are ultimately responsible to ensure safety at the worksite. These parties are typically the property owner and general contractor. Two Labor Law statutes that plaintiffs rely upon to recover for injuries at construction sites are Labor Law Sections 240 and 241.

The labor law attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of successful experience in the areas of:

  • Arbitration hearings
  • Federal Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Grievance processing
  • Harassment
  • Labor relations management and grievance handling
  • National Labor Relations Board issues
  • Private and public sector collective bargaining agreements
  • Resolution of union issues
  • Severance pay issues
  • Termination cases
  • Unfair labor practice
  • Union contracts, arbitration, litigation, and audits

Labor Law 240: Scaffolding Law

This statute protects workers against height related-accidents. This includes protection against workers falling and against objects falling on workers. The law essentially states that, construction companies, contractors, and property owners are responsible for ensuring workers whose jobs are performed at heights are safe.

This means that those responsible must take safety measures that include:

  • Barricades
  • Fencing
  • Netting to protect workers if they do fall
  • Safety harnesses for workers
  • Safety rails at heights

Scaffolding is required to hold four times the weight than the scaffolding would be expected to bear. Should these precautions—which are mandated by law—are not followed and a worker becomes injured due to this negligence, then the construction company, property owner, or contractor may potentially be held accountable for the allegedly injured worker’s accident-related medical treatment and other damages.

Labor Law 241: Ground-Level Construction

This law is also known as the “Safe Place to Work Law” and covers ground level construction sites.

The law is designed to protect workers from being injured due to:

  • Air contamination problems
  • Chemical hazards
  • Drowning construction site accidents
  • Tripping accidents
  • Water accidents

Specific regulations that must be followed at these sites involve how the site is “constructed, shored up, equipped, guarded, arranged, operated, and conducted.” This law may also create liability and a right of recovery in which none would have otherwise existed for construction workers and also imposes absolute liability against the owner and his/her agent.

Under this statute, liability is assumed, leaving the only issue to be resolved at trial being the amount of damages. The “Labor Law is the only means of recovery in the courts for an injured worker and it is an assured road to monetary recovery,” according to the statute.

What is a Union?

Unions are organized groups of workers who participate in collective bargaining with their employers, which means that employees may collectively meet and negotiate with management over various issues that affect employees and their jobs such as benefits, wages, and working conditions. A union contract is a legally binding document in which these agreements are put in writing.

What is Collective Bargaining?

Collective bargaining is a type of negotiation that takes place between employers and a group of employees for the purpose of regulating working salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other areas of workers’ compensation and rights. The interests of the employees are commonly presented by representatives of a union to which the employees belong.

The collective agreements that are reached by these negotiations typically set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance procedures, and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs.

The Fair Labor Standards Act

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was put in place in 1938 to protect citizens who receive pay for overtime or other rightfully earned wages. Under the Act, most employees have the right to be paid for all hours “suffered or permitted to work.”

The Act mandates that employees, even those who receive their pay in tips, are to be paid at least a minimum wage. Many companies look for ways in which to avoid these requirements, which is a violation of the FLSA; individuals whose employers neglect to pay minimum wage, overtime, or all hours worked may be in violation of the FLSA.

The lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP offer free lawsuit evaluations to any employee denied his/her pay.

The FLSA also set the maximum standard work week to 44 hours. In 1950, the maximum was reduced to 40 hours; however, some types of work require more than 40 hours such as farm workers who may work for more than 70 hours a week, followed by a 24-hour break. Some exceptions to the break period exist for certain harvesting employees.

Professionals, clerical, technical, and mechanical employees may not be terminated for refusing to work more than 72 hours in a work week. These work ceilings, as well as a competitive job market, generally motivate American workers to work more hours, making American workers—on average—the workers who take the fewest days off of all developed countries.

To learn more about filing an FLSA lawsuit, or other employment claim, please contact the employment lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP today.

Harassment in the Workplace

According to the United States Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the “employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages….

The employer will be liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees over whom it has control (e.g., independent contractors or customers on the premises), if it knew, or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.”

Legal Help for Victims of Labor Violations

If you believe your employer violated a labor law, you may have valuable legal rights. To learn more about the legal remedies available to you, please call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today.

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