Knowing your workplace rights is an important part of working outside the home. These days, people often speak of their ‘rights,’ but when it comes to the jobs we do for our employers, we often don’t know what those rights are. For instance, what about privacy? Do you have a right to privacy when you’re at work? What about termination? If you’re working for a company that fires you, did you have a right to expect never to be fired unless you did something egregious on the job? Or can they fire you for any old reason? What harassment, particularly sexual harassment? This subject has been in the news a great deal in the past couple of decades, so most of us know that sexual harassment from a superior is covered under the law. But what about sexual harassment from a co-worker—is that still covered under today’s anti-harassment laws? Following are tips about your rights in the workplace from top employment lawyers that will give you an idea of where you stand, legally, at work.
Your right to privacy at work
Employees have the right to a certain amount of privacy in their workplace. However, employers also have a right to expect a certain amount of control over their employees, particularly in private organizations. For instance, if there is a company policy that dictates cameras are permitted in your workplace, then you must be notified there may be cameras watching you at work. Additionally, some states in the U.S. have restrictions on the use of surveillance. One-way mirrors particularly are restricted in many states. Many states also have restrictions on the search of employees’ desks. Employers are permitted, however, to search desks if company policies state they will conduct random property searches. Check your company’s policy and procedures manual for such information.
Your right to a safe work environment
As an employee working for a company, you have the right to a certain degree of safety, designated under OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Employees who work under what are considered dangerous or hazardous conditions in their workplace must be given required training regarding safety and health standards which must be followed. Additionally, employees working in these conditions must be provided with the proper safety tools and safety gear such as hard hats and goggles in order to protect them on the job.
Your right to a harassment-free workplace
Employees have a right to a harassment-free workplace. As an employee, you may not be harassed within your workplace either by an employer or by another employee. Harassment laws typically cover such types of harassment as sexual as well as bullying. For instance, an employer or another employee is prohibited from forcing any individual in the workplace from performing sexual acts on or for them. Additionally, employees have a right within the workplace not to be harassed in other forms, such as via email, mail, or telephone.
Your right to fair wages
As an employee, you have the right to be paid for any and all hours you work for your employer. Naturally, the rate will depend upon your position as well as the rate you negotiated between you and your employer. However, the United States has certain laws in place designating rates that employers must not fall beneath. The federal minimum-wage amount currently is $7.25 per hour, with some positions such as servers designated as the exception due to such things as tips.
You have the right, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take a leave of absence from your workplace for such issues as medical problems. Consult with a top employment lawyer if you believe you are being denied your rights under FMLA.
You don’t expect to go to work and have your rights violated, but it happens in our country every day. Thankfully, there are employment laws that cover you for any number of workplace rights violations. Sexual harassment, discrimination, wage rights, safety rights—the list of your rights at work is simply too long to cover in one article. If you need further information regarding what your rights are at work, consult with a top employer lawyer near you whose knowledge and expertise will assist you in navigating the ins and outs of your workplace rights.