Since employment law and workers’ compensation law both relate to people and their workplace it is common, however incorrect, for the two to be used interchangeably in conversation. Here are the key distinctions between these important areas of the law.
Employment Law is:
- ADA Violations – The Americans with Disability Act, ADA, prohibits discrimination in the work place based on disability. Employers anywhere in the country, including Washington State, with 15 or more employees must provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment opportunities available to others.
- Discrimination – Employers cannot treat employees differently due to race, color, religion, sex, age, disabilities, genetic information or national origin.
- Employment Contract Disputes – These kinds of disputes involve issues arising from formal employment contracts. These issues typically include non-compete clauses, wages, bonuses, benefits, duration of employment, ownership of intellectual property, and confidentiality.
- FMLA Violations – Employers with over 15 employees must follow the FMLA which entitles individuals to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if the employee is unable to perform his or her job due to a serious medical condition; needs to care for a sick family member (including spouse, child, or parent); or to care for a new family member (by birth or adoption). Following the leave, the employee should be returned to the same or equivalent position.
- Harassment – This includes any behavior intended to disturb or upset an employee at the work place. This can also include threatening disturbing behavior and unwanted sexual advances.
- OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations are federal safety violations when an employer knowingly neglects to protect federal employees, military base employees, longshore and offshore employees. (A recent example is the death of the SeaWorld Trainer by the Orca whale. OSHA fined SeaWorld approximately $75,000 in safety violations.)
- WISHA – Washington Industries Safety and Health Act protects all workers in the State of Washington. Violations of the act are handled through L&I (Labor & Industries).
- Retaliation – This occurs when an employer seeks revenge upon an employee for something the employee feels is legally right. In order to fall under retaliation the following must be present: (1) employee was involved in a protected activity (2) the employee performed the job according to the employer’s expectations (3) the employee suffered a materially adverse employment action (4) the employee was treated less favorably than similarly situated employees.
- Wage and Hour Disputes – These disputes include unpaid time, illegal distribution of tips and failure to pay during breaks. Issues involving misclassification of employees and independent contractors also falls within this employment category.
- Wrongful Termination – Being fired from your job illegally!
You can sue your employer for any of the above violations! Awards can include lost wages and monetary awards for pain and suffering. These cases are argued before the Washington State Human Rights Commission, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the United States Department of Labor.
Employment Law attorneys handle employment law cases.
Workers’ Compensation Law is:
- On the job injuries or occupational diseases.
Workers injured or made sick by their work are eligible for Workers’ Compensation. Benefits include medical care, time loss compensation, permanent partial disability, vocational rehab, pensions, and other payments. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) manages state fund cases and presides over self insured cases. Workers’ Compensation is a no fault system of social insurance which in theory provides sure and certain relief but takes away your ability to sue your employer for all injuries except intentional injuries.
Workers’ Compensation law is what we do. If you need Washington Workers’ Compensation advice click here, if you need a Washington workers’ compensation attorney, call and we’ll do our best to answer your questions and help you.
Can They Overlap?
Yes! Sometimes the issues in employment law cases overlap with the issues in workers’ compensation cases. For example, an individual in Seattle, WA could suffer an injury on the job while at the same time experiencing discrimination due to his or her advanced age. This would result in both a workers’ compensation claim and an age discrimination suit. This individual would therefore have two different cases and two different sets of remedies.