Employment laws are created to protect employees. Many people simply perceive employment laws as regulations that employers must follow, which they are. However, they fail to realize the reasoning behind the creation of these employment laws was for the benefit of the employees. States are trying to protect the rights of employees and ensure the best treatment of employees. If you are an employee in Arizona it is important to know your rights and protections granted by both Federal and State legislation to guarantee that you are being treated fairly and justly by your employer.
Employment Laws in Arizona
Arizona is an at will employment state. This means that an employee can be fired at any time, for any reason, so long as it is not illegal. The state of Arizona has laws and regulations in place regarding minimum wage, discrimination, worker’s comp, and many others. As an employee you are guaranteed certain protections in Arizona. Arizona employment laws are important for employees because if you do not understand your rights, you can be taken advantage of. Some employers are unaware of all of the regulations, disregard the regulations, or do not have proper internal regulations in place that adhere to Arizona employment laws. It is important to understand you rights to ensure you are being treated fairly and are safe at your job.
The federal legislation, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) set hour and wage regulations for employers. In conjunction with Arizona law, the FLSA sets guidelines for overtime, minimum wage, and other related wage and hour rights. For a full understanding of what is governed by the FLSA, click here.
Discrimination and Harassment
In Arizona, an employer with 15 employees or more is subject to discrimination laws.
According to both Federal and State law, the following categories are protected from discrimination:
- National Origin
- Age (40 years or older)
- Physical/Mental Disability
An employer cannot make hiring decisions based on any of the above protected groups. Even after hiring an employee, a business or any of its employees cannot discriminate against an individual for any of the above reason. This means that a job in Arizona cannot fire an employee for simply being too old, for getting pregnant, or any of the other listed categories.
Note that it does include protection against retaliation. This means that if you report any suspicion of wrong-doing at the company, the company cannot retaliate against you and fire you. Many people fear being the whistle-blower in a workplace situation because they do not want to jeopardize their livelihood, but Arizona protects against that retaliation.
Sexual Harassment is an important protection that Arizona law provides for employees. It disallows employers or fellow employees from making sexually forward, lewd, explicit, or threatening comments or actions towards an employee.
Workplace Safety and Injuries
Employers have a legal obligation to provide a workplace setting that is safe for their employees. This legal obligation requires safety measures and trainings on job sites that offer known dangers.
At the Federal level, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration) is in charge of setting regulations for workplace safety. Workplace safety regulations set by OSHA cover:
- unsafe working conditions
- electrical hazards
- noise levels
- extreme temperatures
- extreme vibrations
- biological hazards
- chemical hazards
- repetitive work injuries
- long work hours
Employees have a right to report to OSHA any workplace practices or hazards that an employee feels need to be addressed.
If an employee is injured on the job, there are also certain rights and obligations the employer must abide to. Most importantly, in Arizona, most employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance to ensure that they can pay employees their worker’s compensation in the event of an injury on the job. Workers comp will provide the injured employee with a percentage of their typical earnings, payment for related medical bills, and provides vocational rehabilitation.
Paid Time Off in Arizona
Employers in Arizona are not required to provide their employees with the paid time off. Although many states require employers to provide their employees with paid time off (PTO), neither Arizona nor federal laws require PTO. However, there are certain instances in which an employer is required to allow unpaid time off to their employees. Employers are required to allow time off for:
- Family and Medical Leave: Federal laws require that employers with 50 employees or more provide up to 12 weeks unpaid vacation for family or medical emergencies (according to federal FMLA)
- Military Leave: Both Federal and Arizona State laws require employers to allow time off for military service or duty. Employees must be reinstated after their military leave and cannot be discriminated against for their absence due to military duties.
- Jury Duty: Arizona employers are required to allow employees unpaid time off to attend jury duty if they are called to do so. An employer may not require you to use PTO or vacation time for jury duty.
- Voting: Employees in Arizona are allowed to take time off of work to participate in local, state, and federal voting days, unless their scheduled shift begins 3 hours after voting opens or ends 3 hours before voting closes.
Understanding your rights as an employee gives you the comfort of knowing what an employer legally can and cannot do. If you do not know the regulations, you would not know if your employer is following them or not. Just because your employer is paying you, does not mean you do not have rights and protections. Federal and State laws are created to ensure the fair treatment of employees and ensure that they are continued to be treated well while they work for the company.
With the recent changes in minimum wage requirements and overtime pay, the workplace is changing. Many employers have realized the need for policies and employee handbooks to inform their employees of the policies of the company and ensure that they are in compliance with state and federal employment laws. As an employee it is important to read your employee handbook and know the internal policies that affect your rights as an employee.
If you have any questions about your rights as an employee, contact us today.
Need Help With An Employment Law Issue?
The state of Arizona is a great place to live and work, but knowing the employment laws will help you a lot. Whether you are a newcomer to the state or a lifelong resident, understanding your workplace protections is good for your career, and the more you know, the better.
Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.