As an employee, you trust your employer to follow the law and facilitate a safe working environment. While you may give your all to your employer, all too often, they do not do the same in return. On many occasions, workers are subjected to unfair work conditions such as harassment, discrimination, non-payment of wages, unsafe workplaces, etc. In some cases, these errors are merely mistakes made by businesses and when notified they are quickly corrected. However, sometimes employers do not attempt to rectify known employment law violations. In this situation, many employees believe that they are powerless and cannot do anything about being treated unlawfully by their employers. This is simply not true. You have rights and may be entitled to compensation if they have been infringed upon. If you believe that your employer is in violation of Federal or state employment laws, it is in your best interest to consult with an employment law attorney as soon as possible. Click here for more information. Learn about the most common employment law violations committed by employers below.
Discrimination in The Workplace
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws enacted by Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and many other federal laws) that bars discriminatory hiring and employment tactics perpetrated by employers in the United States. The effects of discrimination can have a profound impact on an employee’s ability to earn more money, advance in their career, as well as feel safe at work. Federal law prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, or pregnancy. Some examples of discrimination in the workplace can include:
- Wrongful termination based on discriminatory practices
- Decrease in benefits
- Denied compensation, opportunities, and/or benefits
- Excluding certain candidates from the hiring pool
- Inappropriate comments or jokes
- Offering preferential treatment or benefits to one group while denying another
At-Will Employment Errors
Most states have “at-will” employment. This means that employers can generally fire workers for any reason as they choose (as long as it isn’t in violation of the law). However, in some circumstances, signed employment contracts stipulate specific criteria that must be met for an employee to be terminated. Therefore, if you are terminated for a reason not outlined in your signed employment contract, you may be protected by the law.
Non-Payment of Wages
Most people know that they should get paid for their work. Some employers cut corners by not paying employees for all of the hours that they are working, withholding commission payments, unlawfully classifying employees as exempt (when they are not), not paying the correct overtime wages, etc. If you believe that you have not been receiving your full compensation, it is recommended that you take meticulous notes and collect evidence of what is owed to you.
Harassment in The Workplace
Federal law prohibits harassment in the workplace. Harassment can come in many forms. It is defined as any unwelcome conduct that is solely based on an employee’s race, religion, sex, nationality, age (if older than 40), and disability. Harassment becomes unlawful if it meets either one of the following criteria:
- The employee must endure the conduct or lose their job
- The conduct becomes so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment
Offensive conduct can include offensive jokes, threats, physical intimidation, insults, epithets, etc. It is important to note that “petty slights” and/or slightly annoying behavior may not be considered illegal.
Whether you are working on a construction site or in a high rise office building, your employer has a right to provide you with a safe work environment. They are required to provide a workplace that is free from known hazards that can cause harm to employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides clear guidelines as well as oversight.