What is employment law?
Employment law is a collection of different statutes, regulations and legal doctrines created over the years to govern the employment relationship. Before modern times, employment relationships were entirely “at-will” – meaning that either side could end the relationship at any time for any reason or no reason. Early last century, U.S. courts often ruled that the Constitution prohibited laws that tried to regulate the employment relationship.
Since then, many laws have been passed to reduce abuses and ensure equal opportunity in employment. The federal government took the lead in passing many of these laws, and even now one main source of employment law remains federal statutes first enacted in the mid-20th century.
In the 21st century, employment law has expanded and statutes have been passed by states and localities that cover almost every aspect of employment. Nevertheless, the relationship remains subject to mutual agreement in a number of key respects.