Most places of employment have copious amounts of training and handbooks to educate you on what is and isn’t allowed in the workplace. However, many employers don’t take these opportunities to educate their employees on their rights. This lack of training and education can widen the power imbalance between employer and employee in some cases. Let’s review five workplace rights every employee should know about to help you become a better advocate for yourself.
All employees must be given equal work for equal pay by their employer. It is important to note that equal work does not mean that two employees must have the exact same job title. However, their roles must be substantially equal, meaning the responsibilities and requirements of the job must be similar in action or measure.
Your employer must provide you with a safe and healthy work environment according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which OSHA continues to enforce. All machinery should be safe to use, the workplace should be free of toxic chemicals and other hazards, and you have the right to receive health and safety training. Ultimately, your employer must ensure there is as little exposure to illness and injury within the workplace as possible. In tandem with that right, you also have the right to report health and safety violations.
You have the right to request reasonable accommodations if you have a legally recognized medical condition, such as cancer, heart disease, or pregnancy. For example, a pregnant person working at a cash register has the right to ask for a chair so they can sit and continue to work. Also, the Family and Medical Leave Act, which offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious circumstances, such as the birth of a child or a serious illness that impacts your or a loved one, protects companies with 50 or more employees.
Employment discrimination occurs when an employer mistreats or harasses an employee based on their protected characteristics. Protected characteristics fall under a person’s race, origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, religion, genetic information, and pregnancy or veteran status. Every aspect of employment must be free of discrimination, including the hiring, firing, assigning, payment, and promotion processes.
If you suspect discrimination in the workplace or are a victim of it, you have the right to report and file a complaint with the appropriate parties. You also have the right to file these complaints without fear of your employer retaliating against you. For example, say you act as a whistleblower and report your employer for clearly engaging in an illicit activity. Your employer cannot threaten, fire, demote, or isolate you in retaliation for doing so.
In truth, these are a few of the workplace rights every employee should know about, and every employee should strive to know as much about their rights as possible.
You may be struggling to function in a hostile work environment if you feel intimidated in the workplace or if a coworker or employer has harassed and discriminated against you. Although it may seem hopeless, you’re not alone, and among your other rights, you have the right to hire legal help. Contact the Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder to speak with a hostile work environment attorney today.