As an employer, you have the right to expect certain things from your employees. You have an obligation to be a good boss to those you hire, but you should also expect those workers to live up to their own responsibilities. If you are an employer, it is important to understand your rights, and what you should expect from the men and women you employ.
When it comes to rights of an employee in the workplace, there are a number of federal laws to protect employees against mistreatment. The US Department of Labor (DOL) is the primary unit that handles the rights of employees, with 28 agencies under its purview that provide oversight in key areas. While there are countless individual protections and guarantees for employees, following is a list of five key rights of employees in the workplace.
According to Federal Law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against an employee or potential employee due to their age. If an individual is the best qualified applicant for a job, promotion, project, etc. then that individual deserves the position. Employers may not choose to hire, fire, or promote based on the age of the applicant. This can be a difficult issue to prove, as they will likely claim the individual was simply unqualified for the position.
Most states protect the right to “at-will” employment, meaning employment is a voluntary agreement for both the employer and the employee. Either party is free to sever the employment agreement at any time, for any reason. It’s an important distinction for employees as it maintains one’s free agency to work wherever they desire, but it can get a little tricky when it comes to why an employer severs the employment agreement. While “at-will” employment allows employers to terminate employees freely, an employer can’t terminate an employee if it infringes on the employee’s rights guaranteed under state and federal law.
Employers have a legal obligation to pay their employees fairly and on time. Most businesses are held to these standards by a combination federal and state employment laws, and there are regulatory agencies at both levels of government to enforce the applicable regulations. Employers who fail to pay their employees on scheduled pay dates may be subject to an investigation, fines, civil litigation, and court-ordered damages.
Even though the law gives employers significant leeway, there are still some ways an employer can violate the law when he fires you. Wrongful termination in Arizona occurs when an employer fires you because of your sex, race, religion, and a handful of other categories. Simply put, employers are foreclosed from firing you because of your immutable characteristics, even in those states where right-to-work laws have taken hold.
Employers are not bound by any federal laws to issue an employee’s final paycheck by a certain date. Instead, each state has the discretion to determine its own final paycheck rules, with most states adopting separate final paycheck time limits for employees who are terminated and employees who quit. Generally speaking, employees who are terminated (fired or laid off) are required to receive their paychecks much sooner than employees who voluntarily quit.
Emotional distress is defined as a state of mental suffering that is the result of an extreme situation. Common examples of mental suffering include depression, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, and anxiety. Successful emotional distress cases are typically filed by victims who have suffered extreme emotional suffering and/or trauma as a result of accidental or intentional injury.
When an employee sues his or her employer for harassment under a protected characteristic, the employee will need to offer evidence to substantiate the harassment claim, perhaps in the form of recorded conversations, emails, or witness statements. That alone isn’t enough to win the lawsuit, though. In addition to proving the harassment took place, the employee will also need to prove that the harassment created a hostile work environment.
Employees have the right to be paid fairly and on time for their hours worked, and employers are limited in how and when they can legally withhold wages. Unfortunately, cases of employers illegally withholding wages are unfortunately far too common. Employers who illegally withhold wages may be subject to a state and/or federal investigation, and the employer may be required to pay the employee damages in addition to the unpaid wages.
Overtime pay is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law that establishes the basis for employee wages, child labor, and employer record keeping. The law states that non-exempt employees must be paid 1.5x their hourly wage for any hours worked over 40 hours in a week. Unfortunately, federal law doesn’t address mandatory overtime or advance notice of schedule changes.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) was passed in 1970 to regulate and enforce workplace safety in the United States. The OSH Act is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the US Department of Labor (DOL).
There are a number of federal laws that protect against the disclosure of employee medical information in the workplace. While the language of each law is slightly different, the consensus is universal—employers are held to strict confidentiality rules when it comes to acquiring and disclosing an employee’s medical information.
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