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Employee Rights: Important Things You Should Know

As an employee, you are entitled to certain rights that impact your safety, your pay, and more. It is important that you are aware of what laws affect you and what you have to follow as laid out in your contract. 

Here are 4 areas of employee rights that everyone should know.

Wrongful termination 

Wrongful termination is when you believe your contract with an employer has been terminated for reasons that breach your contract. This could be due to discrimination, refusal to commit an illegal act, retaliation, or just simply not following the termination procedures set out in the contract. 

If you find yourself battling wrongful termination, it is first important to review your contract, if you have one, to ensure there has been a breach by your employer. Then review the laws in your particular state and seek professional legal support. This is because the rules will be different around the country. 

If you do not have a contract, you are likely to have fewer protections from being dismissed, although there are some standard civil service protections that you are subject to. 

Discrimination and harassment

What to Do If an Employee Sues You or Your Company

Federal laws and employee contracts should protect individuals from any form of discrimination and harassment. Any form of unfair treatment due to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, disability, age, or genetic information is against the law. 

If you feel like you have been discriminated against or harassed in the workplace, then it is first important to check the local laws, which often provide additional protection to federal laws, and then make a complaint with your local employment rights office. 

Unsafe workplace conditions

Under local and federal laws, you are protected with specific safety rights in the workplace. These laws protect you from illness and injury on the job by being able to report injuries, refuse unsafe environments and be provided with the correct safety equipment to do your job, as well as protect your ability to speak up without retaliation. 

A workers’ compensation attorney will be able to advise you on the laws that affect you, as they are different in each state, and how to use them when you fall ill or feel unsafe in your workplace. If there has been a breach, you may be entitled to medical expenses and lost wages while out of work. 

If you work for the local government or in the private sector, then the laws may be different. 

Minimum wage and overtime 

What Small Business Owners Should Know About Wrongful Termination Lawsuits

Federal laws set out a minimum wage for all employees that must be adhered to, as well as laws that cover employees who work more than 40 hours per week and their entitlement to pay. 

These laws cover you if you are an employee. If you are an independent contractor, then the rules may differ. If your employer pays you as a contractor, yet your role defined under the law is an employee, then you can file a complaint under misclassification. 

Each state will have its own labor laws, so if you feel if you are being underpaid, or not paid for additional work, you will have to check your contract first. Additionally, you can check the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Department of Labor for more information. 

The laws for employees are pretty clear and should be followed at all times by your employers. If you believe that a contract has been breached, it is important to first check your contract and seek professional legal advice on how to move forward.

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