If there is one experience that is shared by most people in a society it is the experience of work. Work permeates our life, because we spend a significant portion of our waking hours at work. The legal context in which the world of work exists is the focus of courses in labor and employment law. Businesses often engage lawyers to assist them in their relationships with their employees and unions.
Labor Law refers to the regulation of the relationship between employers, labor organizations, and employees. Its primary focus is the study of the National Labor Relations Act.
Employment Law refers to the regulation of the employment relationship regarding issues other than those involving labor law. Its primary focus is the study of common law areas (e.g. contract law, and torts), as well as federal and state legislation (e.g. Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act) dealing with the regulation of the employment relationship.
Lawyers work in a variety of settings practicing employment and labor law. A lawyer working on the “management” side may work for a law firm representing employers or may work for an employer as an in-house lawyer. A lawyer working on the “labor” side may work for a labor union or a law firm representing unions and plaintiffs. Additionally, there are opportunities for employment in government, working, for example, for the National Labor Relations Board or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.