There is a wide array of employment labor laws designed to protect both employees and employers. Federal statutes, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as well as state laws protect employees from discrimination based on age, disability, sex, race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Family and Medical Leave Act, another federal statute, allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons, without having to worrying about losing their job.
Basic Employee Rights
A very common workplace issue is the lack of enforcement or the violation of employee rights. Everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion has the right, as an employee to:
- Free choice of employment
- Just and favorable conditions of work and protection against unemployment.
- Equal pay for equal work without any discrimination.
- Just compensation
- Form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
- Rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Other important employee rights include protection against employer retaliation, the right to some privacy in some matters, the right to take a leave to care for a sick child/family member, and a safe and harassment free workplace.
Some Specific Employee Rights You Should Know About
- If you are pregnant, you have the right to take a leave under your employer’s policies, state law, or the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to give birth or to care for their newly born child.
- If you are required or permitted to work overtime, you must be paid premium pay for such overtime work. Overtime pay is for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half your regular rate of pay.
- Sexual harassment, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, is an actionable wrong, not just against the offending party but also against employers who refuse to take proper action.
- Regardless of fault, an employee with a work-related illness or injury can get workers’ compensation benefits. However, in exchange for these guaranteed benefits, employees usually do not have the right to sue the employer in court for damages for those injuries.
- Men and women who perform work of similar skill, effort, and responsibility for the same employer under similar working conditions must be provided the same wages and benefits.
- An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee, as long as it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business.
- Business policies such as English-only at work must show that it is a necessity and reasonable for the operation of the business. Likewise, any specification of an age limit (in job notices and advertisements) must be a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business.
Unemployment insurance, or unemployment compensation, helps unemployed workers maintain some level of income while in between jobs. The federal government, in conjunction with state programs, operates these programs from revenues garnered from American taxpayers. Each state program operates its unemployment compensation programs differently concerning administration, qualifications for benefits, and how much benefits unemployed persons can receive. If you are not sure if you qualify for unemployment insurance, or you believe you have been denied compensation unfairly, a labor attorney can help you.
Resolving Employment Disputes
If you feel that your rights as an employee have been violated, instead of filing a legal employment suit, you should first attempt to resolve the dispute through open and honest communication with your employer. This is often accomplished through the informal mediation of an HR representative.
For more serious matters, or those that are best not dealt with internally, an employee may consider formal mediation, arbitration, or any other alternative dispute resolution method instead. Realistically, the costs of litigation generally far surpass any amount of economic or personal damages in most work-related disputes. A consultation with one of our labor lawyers can help you decide whether or not filing suit is in your best interest.
Contact LegalHelpLawyers.com today for legal assistance with employment disputes!