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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

Top 10 Employee Rights of Every Employee

Although many employees have been working for years, many are unaware of their true employee rights. In fact, employment myths continue to muddy what employees understand to be employee rights. Know your rights. Employees receives these 10 employee rights depending on their situation.

If any of these employee rights have been violated by your employer, consult with a lawyer. Many situations have only a small period of time that they can be investigated by law. Act quickly and seek your options under the law.

Top 10 Employee Rights of Every Employee

1. Privacy Rights

As a rule of thumb, personal possessions are generally considered private, including purses, briefcases, and employee storage lockers. However, employers can monitor your telephone and internet usage at work. Although private telephone conversations may have protections, emails on a company computer or with a company email address are not private.

Employer also can choose to track the websites that their employees visit on work time. This means they can also block certain websites as well as limit the amount of time on specific sites. This is legal.

2. Harassment-Free Workplace

business women in a meeting

Employers are not permitted to discriminate against any job applicant or employee due to his or her legally protected class in hiring, promoting, demoting, or firing. A number of laws protect against discrimination of employees in the workplace for various reasons, such as unequal pay or pregnancy. Although common, discrimination can be difficult to fight against.

Gender Discrimination It is illegal for an employer to pay employees different wages due to their gender. The Equal Pay Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act, providing that wages be based on skill, effort, and responsibility.

Race, Color, Religion, Sex, or National Origin Discrimination Employers with more than 15 employees are obligated by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 not to participate in discrimination against employees for their legally protected class.

Pregnancy Discrimination In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to include pregnancy discrimination. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on pregnancy and related medical conditions. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) sets forth eligibility and requirements for leave due to pregnancy.

woman behind computer screen with fingers pointing at her

Age Discrimination Employees over the age of 40 receive protections from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employers from mandating early retirement and sets standards for benefits and retirement plans.

Disability Discrimination The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees with real or perceived disabilities from being discriminated against in employment when they are qualified and able to uphold their job responsibilities. ADA obligates employers to provide reasonable accommodations should an employee need.

3. Safe Workplace

To protect workers in the United States, the Department of Labor outlined certain guidelines to ensure the safe and healthy work environments. Employers should take necessary steps to keep the workplace free of recognized hazards. This also includes providing safety training and updating equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates these requirements.

4. Whistleblowing

Lawyers looking over a tablet

When an employer is consistently violating employee rights or the safety and health of the workplace, an employee may need to step up and report the ongoing violations. Filing a complaint or requesting an investigation of the company is a protected activity. Federal laws protect employees who report illegal activity within a company.

5. Retaliation Protections

Federal law protects employees from retaliation after they have filed a complaint against their employer for illegal activity. Employees have the right to file for workers’ compensation, to refuse to participate in illegal activity, and to serve on a jury. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee for exercising their employee rights.

6. Reasonable Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) demands that employers enter an interactive process to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who have real or perceived disabilities. These accommodations might mean implementing a lifting limit for a warehouse worker with a back injury or ramps for an employee who requires a wheel chair. Sometimes an employer can prove that a reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship based on cost.

business man sitting and looking over paperwork

7. Fair Pay

Federal law obligates employers to pay workers for the hours that they have worked. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also sets the minimum wage. It is illegal to not pay an employee. When an employee is not paid for hours worked, he or she should sue for unpaid wages.

8. Overtime Wages

Eligible employees receive overtime wages for hours worked over the 40-hour workweek. Overtime wage is time and a half of your regular pay. For example, if your hourly pay is $10, your overtime hourly pay is $15. Not all employees are eligible for overtime wages, but be sure to know the salary and duty requirements to receive overtime wages.

9. Unpaid, Job-Protected Leave

couple holding each other

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers eligible employees who work for eligible employers the right to apply for up to 12 unpaid workweeks of leave. The reason to apply for FMLA leave must be for personal medical problems or to be care taker of an immediate family member with health issues. Employees are protected from discrimination or retaliation for pursuing their employee rights.

10. File a Complaint or Lawsuit

Every employee has the right to report a violation of their employee rights to a federal or state agency in order to rectify the situation. This is a right of every employee. However, it’s important to also read the company handbook and seek resolution internally before filing a complaint with a federal agency.

If any of your employee rights have been violated by your employer and you have tried to have them fixed internally but nothing has been done, reach out to a lawyer for legal advice. Don’t hesitate, talk to an employee rights attorney: (412) 626-5626 or

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