How to Report Illegal Activity and Discrimination in the Workplace


Arizona is an “at will” employment state, meaning employers can let their workers go at any time, unless it’s for an illegal reason. An employer may not fire you or discriminate against you for protected traits, such as your gender or religion. In some cases, filing a complaint with the appropriate agency will be necessary.

If you’ve already been treated in an illegal or unfair way at work, you might be able to seek compensation or get your job back. It’s important to know your rights at work, so you can protect yourself if your employer violates them. We’ll cover wrongful termination, discrimination laws, wage disputes, signs of a hostile work environment, and more.

What Rights do Employees have in Arizona?

  • You’re entitled to safe and healthy working conditions
  • You have a right to work without being discriminated against
  • If your employer wrongfully terminates you, you might be able to seek compensation
  • It’s best that you file any charges or complaints as soon as possible to meet their respective deadlines
  • An experienced employment law attorney can help you throughout this process and answer your questions

Arizona Wrongful Termination Laws 

Most Arizona employees work according “at will” laws, meaning their job isn’t guaranteed by an agreement or written contract. Due to this arrangement, employers may terminate their employees with or without a reason at any time. However, an employee may have a valid legal claim against them if there was an unlawful cause for the termination. These include discrimination, hour or wage disputes, and retaliation for making a report about the employer. 

Discrimination at Work

If you’ve been discriminated against at work, you can file a charge with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or the ACRD (Arizona Civil Rights Division). It’s best that you act quickly, since there are reporting deadlines for each organization. According to the Civil Rights Act, employers may not use any of the following factors to discriminate against an employee:

  • Color
  • Race
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Nationality

As soon as you file a claim, the agency will start an investigation and most likely give you a “right to sue” letter. You then have 90 days to sue your employer.

Reporting Unsafe Work Conditions

According to OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Act) of 1970, you’re entitled to healthy and safe conditions at work. If you’ve been subjected to the opposite, you may file a claim with OSHA. The most commonly reported OSHA violations include a lack of fall protection, unsafe ladders or scaffolding, poor machine guarding, and more. It is not legal for your employer to fire you for making an OSHA complaint.

How to Handle Wage or Hour Disputes

As an Arizona employee, you’re entitled to at least $11.00 an hour. For overtime hours, you must receive 150 percent of your normal pay. If you weren’t compensated according to these rules, you may go through the ICA (Industrial Commission of Arizona) to file a wage and hour complaint. You’re protected against termination for making such a complaint.

Sick Leave in Arizona

Employees in Arizona must receive mandatory earned sick leave for specific situations. You may not be fired for any of the following: 

  • Taking time to recover from a medical condition
  • Taking care of an injured or sick family member
  • Bonding with or caring for a newborn child
  • Missing work because of stalking, violence, sexual violence, or abuse
  • Taking care of a legal matter (by speaking with a lawyer, for example)

How to Know if You’re in a Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment might include unwelcome conduct or comments based on your age, disability, religion, race, or other legally protected qualities. These conditions can unreasonably interfere with your performance at work or create intimidating conditions that harm your self-esteem. 

Not only is the direct target of the conduct impacted in these conditions, but anyone who views or hears the harassment is also considered a victim. If you’re being discriminated against at work, file a complaint with the EEOC or ACRD as soon as possible.

How Working With an Attorney Can Help

The law is always changing, and an experienced employment law professional will know all the latest rules. They can help answer questions regarding your specific, unique situation and offer you advice on how to best handle the circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions on Arizona Employee Rights

You’ll only know when your rights are being violated if you first know what they are. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding employee rights in Arizona:

Q: What are whistleblower protections?

Whistleblowers are protected by a number of state employee rights, in addition to federal regulations (in some cases). According to these rules, you have the right to sue an employer for wrongful termination if you’ve lost your job for reporting illegal activity in the workplace. You must file your complaints within a year of being terminated. In some cases, working with an employment law attorney is necessary.

Q: What are my rights regarding family or medical leave?

According to the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), employers with 50 employees or more must give eligible employees a maximum of 12 weeks (unpaid time) off every year for caregiving or illness. Once your leave is finished, you must be reinstated to an equivalent (or higher) position or the same job you had when you left.

Q: What other occasions allow me to take unpaid time off at work?

Your employer must give you unpaid time off for jury duty. They may not require you to use paid time off to cover this or retaliate against you for your jury service. You’re entitled to take time off to vote or serve in the military or National Guard for up to 5 years, also.

What to Do if You Need Help Reporting Illegal Activity in Your Workplace

If you’ve witnessed or been subjected to illegal activity in the workplace, speaking with an employment law attorney may be the best step to take next. One of our experienced professionals can help you pursue the path that will best suit your needs and increase your odds of recovering compensation for your trouble.

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

Contact Our Employment Law Team

Call (480) 464-1111 or fill out the form to schedule your consultation and discuss your best legal options.