Know Your Natural Rights in the Workplace

Professionals need to know about their rights in the workplace to prevent abuses of powers. First, they must recognize that some rights are protected under both federal and state legislation. Federal work laws ensure that all employees are treated fair physically and financially, and are granted equal opportunities to expand within their career field. State legislators are authorized by law to implement additional regulations that cater to their specific regional job market. However, all state governments are required to honor employees’ rights that are preserved under federal law. This piece will introduce three natural rights all employees have in the workplace.

Right to Anti-Discrimination

Federal work laws require that institutions treat their employees equally across the board. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 eliminates discrimination in the workplace by prohibiting management from treating staff differently based on genetic makeup or religious background. This also extends to the hiring process. Employers cannot legally turn away candidates for a position solely based on their skin color, race, nationality, sex or religion. Title VII also bans employers from prohibiting employees from missing work to honor religious holidays.

Anti-discrimination rights are also protected federally through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This legislation was passed to ensure employees with disabilities are not discriminated against in the workplace. ADA defines the word “disability” as a condition that significantly impacts a person’s ability to perform daily activities. It also requires that employers must make accommodations for employees with special needs to provide them with an equal opportunity to complete their work assignments. T

he Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects those ages 40 and up from being discriminated against and overlooked by senior management in the workplace. The act was originally created to avoid imbalanced promotional opportunities in favor of younger employees compared to their seasoned counterparts.

Right to Fair Pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) determines the duration of the official workday and workweek. This usually consists of five consecutive eight-hour work shifts with a daily lunch break included. The act also solidifies minimum salary requirements that organizations must set. On the state level, legislators can enforce additional labor laws to provide further protections for their workforces.

It is also mandatory under this act to pay employees for any overtime they obtained that was not included in their original work schedule. Overtime is defined as working more than 40 hours per week, or in some states more than eight hours in one day. The FLSA guarantees employees receive an increase in their hourly wage for each hour they continue to work after their scheduled shift has been completed.

Right to Health and Safety

Federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declare worksites safe before employers can open up the property for typical operations. OSHA often inspects areas that are used for manufacturing purposes because they typically run a higher risk of exposing employees to hazardous environments. Importantly, OSHA protects those who file a complaint against their employers for violating federal safety measures.

Lastly, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another federal law that protects employees’ rights in the workplace. It ensures that employees with qualifying circumstances are able to maintain their job while sorting out certain situations in their personal lives. Typically, FMLA leaves are granted to those who suffer from or who have a household member suffering from a serious illness. It guarantees a person can use up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without the risk of being replaced by a new employee due to their hiatus from work. Requirements for this benefit include employment with the organization for at least a year and having worked 1,250 work hours.

How to Act Now

It is important that all employees are aware of their rights in the workplace to ensure they are being treated fairly on the job. If you feel that your rights have been violated at work, it is crucial to take active steps in order to address the situation immediately.

  • Take vivid notes: Write down what occurred as soon as it happens, and keep record of everything. Then, the events will still be fresh in your memory, and you will be able to recall details. Most importantly, the notes can be used as official evidence if needed in court.

  • Notify Your Supervisor: Meet with your supervisor to discuss the situation at hand and ask what the appropriate next steps are. Share your detailed notes with your supervisor so they are aware you have proof of the violation against you.

  • Notify Your HR Department: The organization’s human resources department can further assist you with resolving any violations or complaints. The departments provide guidance and protection for those who feel unsafe in the workplace.

Briana Richardson-Jones serves as a Justice Department (DOJ) program analyst. Before becoming a federal employee, she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s of Science in criminology with a public policy concentration. She believes she can help prospective and new employees navigate government efficiently while currently doing the same. Briana has discovered creative tips that can help others “work smarter” in the future. She also plans on combining her love for writing and criminal justice to educate readers about current events and community issues affecting people worldwide.

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Avatar photo Blake Martin

What an important topic, and one we often don’t discuss until things go south. Great tip to take vivid notes; that’s often the hardest part recounting exact wording and other specifics.