In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there were few regulations protecting
American labor. Over time, labor unions, the federal government, and the Supreme Court sought, enacted, and upheld labor legislation to stop employee exploitation.
Those who are unaware of their rights might nevertheless be exploited. In this chapter, we will examine:
Essential employee protections at work
Federal safeguards for workers
How workers can assert their rights if they are infringed
Laws that safeguard American workers on the job
Employee rights refer to the legal protections accorded to employees in the workplace. These rights are controlled by federal, state, and municipal legislation, as well as employer-employee contracts.
There are several employee rights, but among the most well-known are the rights to:
A secure worksite
Join a union or engage your company in various forms of collective bargaining.
Freedom from discrimination in the workplace
Reasonable access to relevant company information
These rights may appear obvious, yet they were not always assured. In the past, companies were able to get away with various types of exploitation, such as paying workers meager salaries, exposing them to hazardous circumstances, and terminating them without reason.
Now, employee rights are protected at the federal and state levels, enforced by public policy and the employment contracts they sign.
Nevertheless, exceptions to the employment-at-will concept (the notion that employees are free to choose where they work) typically fall into three categories: statutory rights, contractual rights, and public policy exceptions.
The federal and state legislatures establish statutory rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination in employment on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, provides the most well-known legal protections for employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Fair Labor Standards Act are a few more (FLSA).
Employment contracts, which might be written or verbal, are the most frequent source of contractual rights. A contract of employment specifies the terms and conditions of employment, including work responsibilities, salary, and duration of employment. A language in an employment contract stating that an employee may only be terminated for "cause" suggests that the person must have committed misconduct in order to be lawfully terminated.
The concept behind public policy exceptions is that some public policies take precedence over an employer's ability to terminate an employee. For instance, it is contrary to public policy to terminate an employee for reporting illegal action by the employer, as this would deter other employees from reporting wrongdoing. Other exclusions based on public policy include terminating an employee for jury service, military leave, or refusal to conduct a criminal act.
If any of these rights are infringed, you can retain the services of a labor law attorney to assist you in understanding your legal choices and taking appropriate action.
Workers' rights laws: the fundamentals
These are state or federal workers' rights laws of which employees should be aware.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act
The historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. The legislation also applies to hiring methods, promotions, compensation, and other job circumstances.
Act for Americans with Disabilities (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act outlaws discrimination against people with disabilities in all sectors of public life, including employment, education, transportation, and all public and private venues open to the general public.
Act on Age Discrimination in Employment (ADEA)
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) outlaws discrimination against employees aged 40 or older. Additionally, it prevents businesses from retaliating against employees who file discrimination complaints.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 prohibits discrimination based on genetic information.
GINA is a federal statute that forbids employment discrimination based on genetic information. For instance, an employer cannot deny employment on the basis of a family history of genetic sickness.
How do I fight for my workplace rights under the law and statutory protections?
You can submit a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state's fair employment practices agency if you feel your employer has violated your rights under any of the statutes listed above.
In most cases, you will need to demonstrate that you were subjected to discrimination based on your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age, or genetic information. You must also demonstrate that the discrimination resulted in unequal treatment compared to other employees.
Here are some of the most essential workplace safety groups you may wish to contact:
Organization for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration controls workplace safety. You can submit a complaint with OSHA if you feel your employer has violated your right to a safe working environment.
Board of National Labor Relations (NLRB)
National Labor Relations Board If you feel your employer has violated these rights, you can submit a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Act on Fair Labor Standards (FLSA)
The federal Fair Labor and Standards Act governs minimum wage, child labor, and overtime compensation. You can submit a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor if you feel your employer has violated your FLSA rights.
What should you not say to HR regarding public policy protections for employees?
In addition to the legislation described above, employees are also protected by public policy. The public policy idea is that it is in the public's best interest for people to use their rights without fear of reprisal.
An employer cannot, for instance, terminate an employee for filing a complaint with OSHA or the EEOC. In addition, they cannot terminate whistleblowers who report violations of human rights.
If your rights are being infringed upon, you should promptly submit a lawsuit and retain legal counsel. Anything you disclose to the HR department may be used against you in the future. Therefore, it is best to contact a knowledgeable attorney.
Creating a Claim
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accepts claims from anybody who believes their employment rights have been violated (EEOC).
Commission for Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC)
The EEOC is a federal organization that enforces anti-discrimination rules in the workplace. To submit a claim, you must do the following steps:
Collect data on the claimed prejudice. This can contain witness testimonies, performance evaluations, email exchanges, and even a manual for employees.
File a discrimination claim. This can be done online, in the mail, or in person at an EEOC office.
The EEOC will evaluate your claim and determine if it is supported by sufficient evidence. Contact LegalShield for further assistance.