Without a doubt employment law can be a major pain in the butt if you happen to be on the wrong end of a “situation” with your employer. Knowing what areas of employment law apply to you, or may apply to you, is the best way to cover that butt in the worse case scenario.
Most often the type of employment law that would apply to you would be the area of human resources employment law. This is a fairly broad area and covers things from absenteeism to workplace violence. The hottest area of employment law right now is the ban on smoking in more and more areas across the country.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking all the smoking bans are the same. They are not and therein is the rub. In the past year, 9 states (total now 23) have passed new laws restricting smoking in public places. And your workplace is considered to be public.
You need to know the employment law that applies to you in the state you live in, so you don’t run afoul of it. Do your research carefully, because in many cases there are even differences between state and local laws and even city to city. For example: in California smoking has been banned in workplaces since 1995. In Louisiana, their ban (put in place January 2007) exempts several categories of businesses. Are you in one of those categories? Checking out the employment law for your location will keep you out of hot water, inside your place of business and in other locations as well.
Wait, it gets worse. Many states that don’t have smoking bans do however have one or more municipalities that have implemented them for public locations and businesses. Here are some interesting figures to contemplate. As of 2007 there are at least 2,507 municipalities with public smoking bans. Out of this 2,507 there are 570 (give or take) municipalities that require a 100 percent free smoke workplace.
Here is another example. Illinois has no statewide public smoking ban. However, Chicago and Cook County and 37 other cities and counties do have bans. As well, Texas doesn’t have a statewide ban, but Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio plus over 20 other municipalities do.
Employment law can be the epitome of idiosyncrasies and if you don’t take the time to read the fine print, you could find yourself in hot water. Another for instance to point out the differences from place to place, are laws that exclude business that sell tobacco or alcohol, etc. It’s confusing to say the least. But, better safe than lighting up someplace that’s going to slap you with fines.