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What rights do employees have?

As an employee, you are at risk for unfair practices from your employer. While you may feel trapped in the situation, there are legal protections and resources for you. It's common for employees to feel like they are powerless. In the face of harassment, discrimination and even wrongful termination, you can be empowered through legal support. Employee rights are protected through legislation directed at at-risk individuals. Americans with disabilities, race, gender, sexual orientation are all protected statuses.

Legislation like the Fair Labor Standards Act protects fair hourly pay for workers. If an employer isn't paying their employees minimum wage, a labor dispute can result. Also, if the employer is misclassifying employees, or there are unpaid overtime wages then an employee has every right to file a wage claim. The ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) protects employees from an employer raiding employee pensions to increase company cash flow. The law also supports wage disputes in cases of failure to pay benefits or denial of benefits.

Whistleblowers place their income and employment at risk by reporting unsafe or illegal practices by their employers. Federal law recognizes the importance of supporting whistleblowers. Filing reports of illegal workplace discrimination cannot have negative repercussions on your employment. If you filed a wage dispute, reported safety violations, filed harassment, or discrimination reports your employer cannot punish you. Adverse action is not just considered firing, but also demotion or negative actions taken against you.

Besides protection for retaliation, the law also protects an employee's civil rights. If you are part of a protected group and feel that your employer is treating you differently from your coworkers, employment laws will protect you. Pregnant women have both state and federal laws that protect and empower them. Throughout their pregnancy and after, they can expect reasonable accommodations as well as keeping their job. There are numerous employment claims that will hold employers accountable to treat their employees fairly and ethically.

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