5 Employee Rights Laws You Should Know

By on November 29, 2012

Do you know your rights as an employee? Well, every worker has employee rights. And some of these rights just may be your employer’s best kept secret.

Every worker in the United States of America has employee rights. The rights may vary depending upon the state in which you work, the number of employees working, and the type of work done. However, there are some basic employee rights all workers have and should be aware of.

Basic Employee Rights
1. The right to be free from any form of discrimination (race, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc).
2. The right to a safe work environment that is void of dangerous conditions, toxins, and other potential hazards.
3. The right to be free from any form of harassment (racial, sexual, verbal, physical, etc.).
4. The right to a fair wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that a worker must receive the federal minimum wage, which is currently at $7.25/hr. There are some states that have their own minimum wage requirement and in that case, the worker will receive the higher of the two minimums.
5. The right to privacy (in most states). The term privacy refers to employee’s personal items, i.e. a purse, a briefcase, employee locker, and any private mail received at the place of business. This privacy right may or may not include telephone conversations and voicemail. As for the Internet and e-mail, the employee usually has limited rights due to the mere fact that the computer belongs to the company.

Other Employee Rights
• The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This right is given to most employees and employers though certain criteria must be met for eligibility. The FMLA allows up to12 unpaid weeks off per year. It also allows for a reduced work schedule leave. The eligibility requirements for this leave include:
o the birth of a child
o the placement of an adopted or foster child
o the need to care for a newly adopted or foster child
o the need to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) with a serious illness
o the need to take time off for yourself due to a serious medical condition

• Bereavement Leave. Bereavement leave is at the discretion of the company and, if granted, would be found in the company employment handout. However, most companies usually give three (3) days with pay. Some may even give as much as five (5) days with pay. Companies that do honor bereavement leave may give additional days if needed. Usually those days are without pay or the employee must use available personal time off (PTO) and vacation.

This is just a glimpse at our employee rights. The Internet is a fairly easy and good source for finding information regarding employee rights. However, if you truly want to learn about this subject, paralegal training is the way to do it.

What Can You Do?
If you feel you have been violated in the workplace there are steps you should take. You have that right.
1. Many companies have an open door policy, but whether your company does or not, it’s always best to first talk with your employer.
2. Be prepared prior to meeting with your boss. Know about the workplace right you feel has been violated. Upon meeting with your employer, be detached by not bringing forth your emotions, but rather stating the facts in a simple yet precise manner. Prior to ending the meeting, know what will be done to remedy the problem.
3. It’s important to keep notes of what took place, of your meeting (s), and anything and everything pertaining to this issue. All copies at hand must be copies you have valid access to.
4. If you feel you have done everything you can and the violation persists, it is at this time you may want to think about seeking outside help – an attorney.

In conclusion, we all have certain rights as employees; and we have the right to know what they are. Learn what your employee rights are in the state you work for your situation.

Cathy West is a native Californian now residing in the great state of Oklahoma.  She is a freelance writer that enjoys to write about anything from health to college courses like paralegal training for pre-law students.

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