5 Essential Employee Rights

Employees can feel quite unsafe at their workplace, be discriminated, taxed and paid unfairly, if unaware of their rights, moreover their employers rights and obligations. If your rights are violated in the workplace and you don’t know what to do, this quick guide will help you out.
Note that most of the laws are applied only to people with 15 or more employees. The federal and state employment laws of the United States grant rights to US employees and protects  them from unfair treatment. Moreover it binds the employer to treat potential, former and current employees accordingly. Based on the contract between you and your employer, you might have signed yourself up for something you had no idea about. To avoid such complications ALWAYS Read The Fine Print. Do not let your employer take an advantage over you! Know your rights and be prepared.

“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”     Theodore Roosevelt

Freedom From Discrimination
Everybody should be able to work in a safe workplace. No matter who you are, your employer has no right to discriminate against you based on age (Age Discrimination in Employment Act), race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability (Americans with Disabilities Act) or religion.

  • Individuals with disabilities cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their disability, if they can complete the essential tasks assigned to them with/without reasonable assistance.
  • Older individuals should be protected from biased treatment. Nevertheless this act does not prohibit the employer to favor older employees than younger.

Even as a potential employee undergoing the hiring process, you can not be discriminated based on any of the criterias mentioned above.

Rights To Privacy
Depending on the contract between you and your employer, you might have a few privacy restrictions. These can include internet usage, work phone, email content etc. The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) allows companies to monitor employee emails. Nevertheless, your right to keep your possessions private can not be violated. Your personal phone, email, your bags and storage lockers are to be out of the reach of third parties. If your employers wish to conduct a background or a credit card check, they are bound by law to notify and request permission from you in writing.

“No matter who is watching or paying the paycheck, we are ultimately each our own boss.”  
Kristin Armstrong

Safety
Safety first. Employees have a right to operate in a workplace free from safety hazards and dangerous chemical substances. It is the obligation of the boss to prevent illness, injury and provide a safe environment for work. If there is an imminent danger threatening the safety of the workers, the employer should take charge of the situation to prohibit fatal consequences.

Fair Compensation
It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay.

  • If the employees have worked for the employer for 12 months and for 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the leave, they are allowed to take 12 week leave of absence for medical purposes

Right To File a Complaint
Don’t take this one too literally. You can’t just blame your boss for everything, but you should be able to communicate your objections freely. The law grants you the right and makes sure you are protected from further retaliation.  
Before you express your complaint, do some research and talk to a lawyer. They will guide you into the right direction, determining the causes and the possible outcomes of your situation. Remember, your boss is also a human. Trying to talk things out will be a great idea. In addition, take notes of important conversations that you have regarding the situation, try to collect evidence to back up your claim. Maybe some of your colleagues will support your claim.

Because of so many unreported events, sexual harassment is one of the most widespread crimes happening at work.  Because of the nature of the criminal act, the employees are afraid to report against their colleagues. DO NOT HESITATE! Speak up!

“A leader is admired, a boss is feared.”
Vicente del Bosque

A healthy relationship between the boss and the employees is the key to a productive workplace. Consumer Law Magazine is aimed to raise awareness among consumers and help you through the legal process. Stay tuned for more information and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Useful Links

When to Claim Compensation for Work-Related Back Injury

What You Should Know about Workplace Accidents?

How to file a Wrongful Termination Claim?

Can You Legally Be Fired for Being Late to Work?

Are You Being Treated Unfairly in the Workplace?

Sexual Harassment Law in the Workplace

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Lucy Bichakhchyan

Lucy Bichakhchyan is the CEO and founder of ANSTORAGIR youth initiative.

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