Employees in the United States have federally and state-mandated rights that work to ensure safe working conditions and equal treatment of all workers. These laws are often updated to make the workplace more equitable and more inclusive. It is important to know your rights and how they are be enforced.
You have the right to work without discrimination or harassment
Three key laws protect your right to work without being harassed or discriminated against. Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act an employee cannot be fired, denied promotion, harassed or “suffer other adverse employment actions based on the employee’s race, religion, creed, gender, or national origin.” The Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids age-related discrimination. However, this can be hard to prove as it is legal to ask for dates of diplomas. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids discrimination that is based on a disability. City and state laws can include broader protection, so if the ADA does not cover your particular situation see if a city or state law does.
You have the right to the accommodations you require to do your job
Accommodations are usually thought of in the context of poor health or disability now that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms an everyday sight. But accommodations should also be made for medical appointments when an employee has a chronic medical condition and for the observation of religious rites. The United States Department of Labor lists other accommodations such as accessible communications and other technologies. If an employee uses a service dog, that dog must be allowed to accompany the employee in the work environment.
You have the right to fair treatment in all employer-sponsored plans
Your employee retirement plan funds should be deposited directly into your retirement account. It may not be used to benefit your employers no matter how it is justified. “To grow the company” is an illegal use of your funds. Check your retirement account often and, depending on the situation, notify your superior if you think it is an honest mistake or request an investigation from the Department of Labor.
You have the right to take needed time off
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires job-protected leave for personal and family medical problems and the birth or adoption of a child. This law applies to companies with 50 or more employees (not counting independent contractors) and that the person requesting leave has worked for the company for at least 12 months. The law does not require that you be paid on leave. Smaller companies usually have family and medical leave policies. Be sure to get a copy that is dated and in writing and demand your right to a leave policy that is equal to other employees.
You have a right to safety on the job
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) mandates that if you do hazardous work, you must be provided with appropriate safety gear. Machines, tools, and equipment you work with or operate must be maintained to minimize danger as much as possible. OSHA requires that employers post OSHA’s job safety notice in the workplace, provide safety training if needed, and keep a record of deaths, injuries, and exposure to hazardous materials.
You have the right to be paid in full and on time
This is a state, not a federal right and laws differ according to state. Although all states demand that you be paid “fairly and on time,” pay periods may differ. The laws are getting stricter, and now all states except South Carolina and Alabama require that employees be paid at least every month. You have the right to know how often and when you will be paid.
You have a right to privacy
The law protects your privacy rights in the workplace beginning at the interview stage. The interviewer must not ask personal questions that do not pertain to the job. She may not ask if you are married, if you have or plan to have children, your sexual orientation, your religion, or your credit rating. She must not ask your health history or about physical and mental conditions you may have. Some hiring processes require a background check and a credit check, but this can be done only if you agree to it in writing. A background check may include fingerprinting, and you may be required to pass a drug test.
On-the-job privacy includes personal possessions, personal storage areas, and private mail addressed only to you. Telephone calls and voicemail messages fall into a gray area, so restrict them to business as much as possible. Your email and Internet privacy rights are extremely limited. Ask before using your work email account for personal messages and remember that your employer can easily check the websites you visit. Most companies have an Internet policy so be sure to ask. You may be able to do online shopping on your lunch break – or it may be cause for termination.
If you feel your worker rights are being violated, contact us. We are committed to eradicating unethical business practices and upholding your rights.