What Rights Are Workers Entitled To?

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

There are certain rights that all workers are entitled to in the United States. Even before you are hired, there are laws in place that prevent you from being mistreated in the workplace. If you feel like you’ve been treated poorly by your employer or if you are having an issue with an employee, it is important to contact an employment lawyer who can overlook your case and help you take action. If you have been injured on the job due to negligence, a workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in receiving the correct compensation for the losses you suffered. Here are some of the ultimate rights you are entitled to as an employee.

Privacy in the workplace

In most states, privacy in the workplace is a major right that employees are entitled to. While many things in the workplace are not legally private, such as emails sent on company computers or websites you browse while at work, there are certain privacies that are expected. For example, you are required to provide a space for the safe storage of personal belongings. You are also entitled, in many states, to a safe space to take private phone calls that cannot be recorded or overheard. These rights vary by state, so understand what you’re workplace is supposed to provide to you. If these rights are not met, you may have a legal case at hand.

Discrimination and harassment

Even before taking the job, you are protected from discrimination and cannot be denied employment due to things like your gender or race. This also covers discrimination against things like sexual orientation, disabilities, or religion. Harassment in the workplace is also not tolerated under the law, and should be taken seriously by employers. Whether that be sexual harassment or harassment that results from discrimination against race or ethnicity, you are entitled to work in a place that protects you from these actions. Discrimination may come from your coworkers or your employer, and both types are unacceptable in the workplace. Whether you feel uncomfortable with your fellow employees’ treatment of you, or you feel you may not be receiving promotions you are well-qualified for because of discrimination, you should take legal action to ensure a fair environment.

Safe working conditions

It is important for an employer to provide safe working conditions for the employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to protect employees from being harmed or killed while on the job. Employers must provide a working environment that is free from any known dangers. Employers are also required to adequately train their staff to uphold these standards. This applies to hazards such as heavy machinery and faulty equipment, as well as situations that may cause health issues, such as breathing in toxins. Employees are encouraged by law to report any unsafe conditions, so their protection can be ensured.

Fair wages for work

If you work a certain amount of hours, you are entitled to receive pay for the time you’ve put in. You are at work to make money, after all, and it is illegal for your employer to withhold your earnings from you when you’ve put the time in. These rules apply to your right for compensation after working overtime - it is illegal in most places for your employer to ask you to stay late and work extra hours without extra compensation. These laws vary by state and by industry, as tipped employees may have a different experience with wages than a person receiving a salary. Understand what your rights are as an employee to make sure you’re not mistreated in the workplace and receive the pay you deserve for the work you’ve put in.

Whistleblower rights

One of the most important rights we have as employees is to be able to address these issues of fairness, privacy, and discrimination in a way that doesn’t put our job at risk. If you have been treated unfairly and want to file a claim against your employer, you are protected under the law from retaliation. If you are fired from a job because you voiced your complaints about a major issue, you have been victim to an illegal practice and should take action further. These rights are called “whistleblower rights,” as employees should be free to “blow the whistle” on unfair practices in the workplace without fear of losing their job.

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