Online Class: Employment Law Fundamentals

Learn the basics of Employment Law, the potential pitfalls, and ways to keep yourself out of court so that you can grow your business by hiring, evaluating, and managing employees.

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Course Description

Essentials of Employment Law: Navigating the Complex Terrain

In today's dynamic business landscape, understanding employment law is not just a necessity—it's a critical component of successful business management. Whether you're launching a startup or climbing the corporate ladder, a sound grasp of employment law ensures that your actions align with legal guidelines, ultimately protecting your business from potential legal entanglements.

Why This Course Matters:

The arena of employment law is intricate, governed by regulations at both federal and state levels. These laws not only dictate the terms of the employer-employee relationship but also extend to other work relationships, including those with independent consultants. As a result, they encompass various aspects of the workplace—from hiring practices and workplace safety to compensation and labor relations.

This course offers a comprehensive overview of the foundational principles and contemporary issues in employment law. While it doesn't replace the intricate details and nuances that a law degree might offer, it provides vital insights and guidance on the most common employment laws that every employer, supervisor, or HR specialist must know.

Course Highlights:

  1. The Employment Relationship: Dive deep into the fundamental dynamics between employers and employees, understanding the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

  2. The Process of Hiring Employees: From crafting a precise job advertisement to conducting efficient interviews, ensure that your hiring process is legally sound and effective.

  3. Evaluating Performance: Gain insights into best practices for employee evaluation. Understand how to offer feedback and address concerns in a legally compliant manner.

  4. Termination: It's often the hardest part of management—letting someone go. Learn the legal and ethical way to handle terminations, minimizing potential legal backlash.

  5. Employee Compensation and Benefits: Delve into the intricacies of salary structures, benefits packages, and other compensation-related matters.

  6. Taxes: A comprehensive look at employment-related taxes, ensuring you remain compliant while optimizing financial benefits.

  7. Leave Policies: Understand the legal guidelines around employee leaves—from maternity and paternity leave to sabbaticals.

  8. Workplace Safety: Learn about the regulations governing workplace safety and how to ensure a secure environment for your employees.

  9. Discrimination: A deep dive into the policies surrounding workplace discrimination, ensuring your company promotes a culture of inclusivity.

  10. Disabilities: Grasp the laws related to employees with disabilities, ensuring your workplace is accessible and compliant.

  11. Unions and Labor Relations: An exploration of the role of unions, collective bargaining, and other labor-related matters in today's business world.

  12. Legal Issues: From non-disclosure agreements to intellectual property rights, delve into the various legal issues that employers frequently encounter.

  13. Miscellaneous Topics: A wrap-up of additional pertinent topics, ensuring you have a well-rounded understanding of employment law.

Who Should Attend?

This course is tailored for a wide audience:

  • Small Business Owners: Equip yourself with the knowledge to grow your business while staying legally compliant.
  • Corporate Executives: Enhance your leadership skills by understanding the legal nuances of employee management.
  • HR Specialists: Ensure your company's HR policies and practices are in line with the latest legal guidelines.
  • Managers and Supervisors: Lead with confidence, knowing that your decisions are backed by a sound understanding of employment law.

In conclusion, the world of employment law is vast and ever-evolving. Staying updated ensures not only the growth and success of your business but also its protection from potential pitfalls. Equip yourself with this vital knowledge and lead with confidence in the modern workplace. Join us today and solidify your position as a knowledgeable and legally-aware professional.

Course Motivation

The process of employment law begins long before you actually hire someone. Before you step into the position of either a small-business owner/employer or supervisor or manager of a larger corporation, it is vital that you have some understanding of employment law. By learning the fundamentals of employment law, you will, at the very least, limit the possibility of litigation. At the most, you will avoid making costly mistakes and be able to get down to the business of making money. 

A successful and savvy employer or manager knows:

  • how to properly design job postings and advertisements.
  • the proper technique for screening applicants.
  • which questions to avoid during the interview process.
  • that checking references and past records may diminish employment concerns.
  • how to avoid charges of invasion of privacy or defamation of character.
  • both federal and state laws that regulate employment practices.
  • how to avoid illegal discrimination charges.
  • how to protect against unfair competition.
  • how important it is to avoid making promises he or she may be unable to keep.
  • that immigration laws must be applied in all cases.
  • and much, much more. 

All Employers Must Obey Employment Laws

What many employers falsely believe is that as long as they have good intentions, they are protected from a potential lawsuit. This may have been the case 100 years ago. However, today's employers are regulated by a myriad federal and state laws when it comes to handling employees. 

Employment Equals Economic Relationship

The first fact you need to be aware of is that employment is an economic relationship. An employer seeks competent and dependable help in order to grow a business. An employee is looking for work with compensation. The laws regarding employing people to work for you or your organization are constantly changing. From Congress to state legislatures to federal and state regulatory agencies, today's employer must brave a veritable minefield of potential disasters in the employer/employee relationship. 

This course will deal with some of the potential dangers and help you determine when professional legal advice should be sought. Remember, this course will not make you qualified to be an employment attorney or tax expert. Nor should you believe you are able to take on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission without the benefit of legal counsel, or even be able to deal with all the legal ramifications of a union being established in your workplace. 

In this course, you will learn the following:

  • Treat employees reasonably and fairly.
  • Employees are not members of your family.
  • All personnel policies should promote your business.
  • Personal prejudices have no place in business.
  • Do not assume you know everything there is to know about employment law.
  • Keep written records; anything not documented did not happen!
  • Consult the appropriate professional, whether attorney or accountant, when you have a question. 


The High Cost of Making Employment Mistakes

This is an area in which you can take reasonable steps to minimize your risk of making costly mistakes. Hiring the wrong person for the job can cost you in wages, in time lost on a project, and in litigation when you try to terminate this individual and hope to hire a better candidate. 

Learning the basics of employment law will help you avoid making mistakes. Sadly, even an honest mistake will get you into trouble. Litigation costs employers billions of dollars a year. By establishing up-to-date employment policies, you will avoid making most of the common mistakes. Not understanding employment law will seriously impact how well and how long you do business. 

Employees vs. Independent Contractors

Independent contractors often are hired to work for you without the complication of actually hiring them as employees. The risk, however, is if they "become" employees based on how you deal with them. 

One of the biggest things that will distinguish an independent contractor from an employee is determining who is responsible for how that individual is allowed to do his or her job. If the employer dictates the hours, the manner, the method of payment, where the individual does the work, then that person is not an independent contractor, but an employee. 

In order to have someone classified as an independent contractor, you as an employer have a say in how much that person will make for a certain amount of work being done. How that work is done, how many hours it takes, the manner in which it is done, and where it is done must be up to the independent contractor. 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prefers that people you pay for work be employees. It simplifies the tax burden for both of you. However, there are times when you periodically need specialized skills. An example could be an attorney or an accountant. Some employers need specialized computer or writing skills. These types of jobs are filled by independent contractors. 

Employees usually are paid according to the time they spend working, per piece of work, or on a commission basis. They also are bound by supervision or direction on how to accomplish their job. An independent contractor is usually paid a specific amount for a given job as established in an agreement and has more freedom to decide how to accomplish that job. 

Where these two show a great distinction is in the tax arena. Here, it is important to note that most states do not actually have a legal definition of an independent contractor. It is up to you, the employer, to understand the legal ramifications of hiring an independent contractor and what tax burden you bear. Each state has its own laws that determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor. 

For an employee: You must pay your portion of that worker's Social Security and Medicare taxes. You must also withhold federal and state income taxes and the employee's share of Social Security and Medicare and pay the employee according to the tax laws of your state. 

For an independent contractorYou do not have to withhold taxes from the amount you pay that worker. The independent contractor is responsible for paying all of his or her Social Security and Medicare taxes. You do, however, have to supply a Form 1099 to each independent contractor to whom you pay more than $600 per year and send the form to the IRS. 

In addition to the tax issue, as an employer, you must be aware of other issues that differ with an employee and an independent contractor. Here you must look into your state and local laws to ensure that you adhere to them strictly.

  • Worker's Compensation
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Job Benefits
  • Workspace
  • Firing
  • Cost 


Employment at Will

Virtually every state in the union except Montana is an "employment at will" state. This means that you can fire an employee for any reason or even for no reason at all as long as it is not illegal for you to do so. We will handle most of those illegalities later in the course. This also means that an employee can quit "at will." too. 

Employment Contracts

Most employers believe that if they do not have a written contract, then they have an employment-at-will agreement. However, if you have made any kind of spoken or even implied promise about the work, you may find yourself in a difficult position. Perhaps you have made promises, even in your employee manual or handbook, that you will follow certain steps prior to termination of employment. This creates an implied contract with your employees, and turns an at-will employee into one with a contract. 

Promising job security is another form of implied contract. This could make you vulnerable to a lawsuit should you terminate an employee, even if you are suffering from the economic downturn and have no choice but to reduce your workforce. Beware of making verbal promises. 

Any letter that you have written must be free of any language that makes promises about a new hire's employment with you that could be construed as an implied contract, and depending on the contents of the letter, can be considered an actual contract.

Arbitration Agreements

With the increased incidence of litigation, or court cases surrounding employment issues, more and more employers are establishing a mandatory arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. This is an alternative way to handle employment issues rather than going to court. This agreement is between the employer and employee, defining how they will resolve future employment disagreements by binding arbitration.  

Arbitration agreements can:

  • reduce the cost of going to court;
  • limit the employee's ability to appeal the decision;
  • be faster than traditional legal processes;
  • maintain privacy for both the employer and the employee;
  • take up less time than a traditional court case;
  • reduce an employer's insurance premiums;
  • usually yield more predictable results. 


  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Lesson One: The Employment Relationship

In this lesson you will understand the importance of learning the fundamentals of employment law; you will, at the very least, limit the possibility of litigation. 14 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson One: The Employment Relationship

Lesson 2: The Process of Hiring Employees

In order to find the best applicants for your position, you will need to write a clear description of the job that needs to be done. 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson Two: The Process of Hiring Employees

Lesson 3: Evaluating Performance

The lesson will include an interview with Michael Link. He holds the position of senior manager at an international corporation and has long been involved in the process of hiring, evaluating, and occasionally terminating employees. 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Lesson discussions: STAR
  • Assessment: Lesson Three: Evaluating Performance

Lesson 4: Termination

We are not always 100 percent successful in choosing the right person for a position we need filled. Other times, because of economic situations, we have to let good people go. 7 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson Four: Termination

Lesson 5: Employee Compensation and Benefits

The FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) is the main federal law that covers all issues related to wages and pay. It sets minimum wage and overtime payment standards. It prevents gender-specific pay. 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson Five: Employee Compensation and Benefits

Lesson 6: Taxes

One aspect of employment law you may prefer to avoid but cannot is the issue of taxes. As an employer, you are automatically assigned the role of tax collector. 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson Six: Taxes

Lesson 7: Leave Policies

With a few exceptions, employers actually have no obligation to provide for leave from work, except as mandated by law. 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson Seven: Leave Policies

Lesson Eight: Workplace Safety

Safety in the workplace has become of paramount importance for both employers and employees. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson Eight: Workplace Safety

Lesson 9: Discrimination

Job discrimination includes hiring, wage, and promotion decisions based on anything other than a worker's performance, credentials, or skills. 14 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson Nine: Discrimination

Lesson 10: Disabilities

In 1990, Congress passed the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) in order to prevent discrimination against individuals with mental or physical disabilities. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson Ten: Disabilities

Lesson Eleven: Unions and Labor Relations

Prior to the newest federal administration (2009), only about 12 percent of all American workers belonged to unions. This is a decline of about 50 percent from numbers collected in 1983. 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Unions
  • Assessment: Lesson Eleven: Unions and Labor Relations

Lesson 12: Legal Issues

The employer-employee relationship is one that is created with tightly woven legal constraints. When one side violates the other's rights, then the dispute could possibly turn into a legal issue. 14 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson Twelve: Legal Issues

Lesson 13: Miscellaneous Topics

The balance of your employees' "reasonable expectation of privacy" and your desire to run your business efficiently and effectively is tenuous at best. 70 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Privacy; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson Thirteen: Miscellaneous Topics
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the employment relationship.
  • Describe the process of hiring employees.
  • Describe evaluating performance.
  • Define termination.
  • Describe employee compensation and benefits.
  • Summarize taxes.
  • Summarize leave policies.
  • Identify workplace safety.
  • Describe discrimination.
  • Describe disabilities.
  • Describe unions and labor relations.
  • Summarize legal issues.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Employment Law Fundamentals
Course Number: 7550199
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: December 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.7 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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