By: Derek Demeri
On: October 31, 2022
What Rights Does Every American Employee Have?
Americans are entitled to several basic employee rights related to their employment. While there are some variations state to state, employee rights can be broken down into ten categories:
- Right to a harassment-free workplace*
- Right to a safe workplace
- Right to basic accommodations for illness or disability*
- Right to minimum wage
- Right to retaliation-free workplace*
- The right to a discrimination-free workplace*
- Right to join a union
- Right to sick and family leave*
- Right to equal pay for equal work
- Right to go on strike
*These rights apply to MOST Americans. Some Americans who work for very small companies and live in states without their own protections may not have some or all of these rights.
The scope of these rights is broad and, in some cases, complicated. In this article we explain some of these employee rights in greater detail and explain how an employment law attorney may be able to help you with issues that arise when these rights are violated.
The Right to a Harassment-Free Workplace
When you are at work, you have the right to be free from harassment in the workplace. Workplace harassment can take many forms, but generally speaking, the law requires employers to develop policies against harassment on the basis of race, gender, religion, nationality or age. Put differently, if your colleague continuously makes sexually explicit comments to you that are unwanted and unwelcome, you employer is required to intervene and discontinue that behavior. Failure to preserve employee rights relating to harassment is against the law. An employment law lawyer can help you decide the next best steps to take if you are being harassed in the workplace.
The Right to Work without Workplace Discrimination
Discrimination occurs when your employer makes employment decisions based on a person’s race, gender, religion, age or disability. For example, if an employer refuses to hire minorities, or chooses not to promote someone purely because they are older, this may qualify as a discriminatory act that violates the law. Discrimination cases can be tricky, because vary rarely is discriminatory intent obvious. Therefore, if you feel that you are being discriminated against, you should consider speaking with an employment law attorney to determine if your employee rights are being violated.
The Right to Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act states that covered employers are required to provide their employees with certain job-protected unpaid leave for medical or family needs. Put differently, if you need to take time off to recover from an injury or illness, or if you need to take time off to help a family member recovering from an injury or illness, your employer is required to give you time off for those purposes without fear of losing you job. The amount of time off depends on the employer and can also vary from state to state because some states offer more protections than the federal law. An employment law attorney can help you determine how much time off you are entitled to and if your employer is infringing on your employee rights by denying you time off.
The Right to a Retaliation Free Workplace
Not everything at work falls directly in line with employment policies. For example, you might witness your boss make harassing comments to another employee, or you might see colleagues performing unsafe work practices. If you report such instances to management or a labor safety organization, you have the right to do so without fear or negative repercussions of other disciplinary actions taken against you. If you make a report about something that is making you uncomfortable at work, and then experience some retaliatory response, you should speak with an employment law attorney to discuss your employee rights.
The Right to Reasonable Accommodations
Incidentally, you may suffer from an injury or illness that limits your ability to perform your job duties. Similarly, individuals with disabilities may need accommodations to better perform their job duties. It is within your employee rights to request such accommodations. If an employer is able to make these accommodations without causing undue hardship, they are required to do so. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include acquiring a desk that can allow a wheelchair to comfortably roll up to it or allowing an individual who needs to attend regular doctors’ visits to work a different shift so that they do not have to miss work. An employment law attorney can help you determine if your employer is failing to make reasonable accommodations or what might qualify as a reasonable accommodation that will allow you to perform your job duties with minimal disruptions to your workplace environment.
Contact Zeff Law Firm if your Workplace Rights have been violated
The attorneys at Zeff Law Firm are very familiar with employee rights and they know when an employer has crossed the line and violated one of those rights. Confronting your employer about a violation of your employee rights can be a scary thing to do, but with an employment law attorney on your side, you have the support you need to get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and to determine what the next steps should be to protect your employee rights.