Employee and employer relationships are often complicated and difficult to navigate. One of the most useful tools both employers and employees have to keep these relationships stable is a strong employment contract. In a contract, all the parties involved agree to treat each other in a certain way and meet established expectations, broadly speaking.
However, when these relationships hit rough waters, it is useful to have a strong understanding of the ways an employee can protect themselves and their rights. Under Federal and state laws, employees have certain rights that employers must respect, or they may face legal and financial consequences.
If you suspect that your employer violates your rights as an employee, it is a good idea to get familiar with your rights as an employee. Understanding these rights and the legal tools you can use to protect your rights is a key part of building a strong career and making your workplace more just, and possibly more profitable overall.
Common employee rights
Each state maintains different laws that may impact the rights an employee does or does not have. In some cases, the kind of job a person performs may mean that they agree to sacrifice certain rights. Typically, an employer agrees to compensate the employee in some additional way when the employee releases a certain right. These are some of the factors that may impact your rights and the tools you have to protect them.
Some rights are commonly accepted. These include:
- The right to a safe workplace that does not include dangerous conditions or materials
- The right to work without suffering discrimination
- The right to fair pay for their complete work
- The right to file claims to the employer without suffering retaliation
These are not the only rights an employee may have, but they are some of the most common.
It is also important to understand that our modern environment has greatly changed our understanding of privacy, especially in the workplace. In general, employees have the right to privacy in the workplace, but interacting with technology can limit this privacy.
For instance, an employee may have the right to expect privacy on their personal computer or phone, but should not expect the same privacy when using an employer’s computer, phone or other device.
Protecting yourself and others
Defending employee’s rights is not a battle that only affects the person who chooses to fight for themselves. When you choose to stand up for your rights and use the law to enforce them, you also create room for others to see their rights and the tools they can use to protect themselves. A strong legal strategy helps keep your rights secure and ensures that the workplace remains safe and respectful for all people.