03 Feb Enforce Your Rights at Your Job
Protection against employment discrimination and wrongful termination through the law has a long history in the United States. Unfortunately, discrimination is still all too common. For example, despite critical pieces of legislation over the years focused on civil rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the United States has reported a sharp increase after 2007 in the number of discrimination complaints it has handled.
If you’re in an employment situation where something “doesn’t feel right” there is a chance that an applicable statute or regulation may apply.
Some kinds of discrimination can be very overt and easy to identify; but others are more subtle. A company might be discriminating against you on the basis of race, age, religion or ethnicity by instituting a policy that singles out one of those factors. For example, an employer might restrict access to customer contact jobs to those with perfect English while forcing employees who are non-native speakers to work behind the scenes. Similarly, a sales organization might have an unwritten “up-or-out” policy intended to weed out older employees within the organization. While these policies or actions are more subtle, they may still violate the law.
If you believe you have been terminated unfairly, demoted, or denied opportunity because of a disability or medical condition, or because of gender, sexual orientation, race or similar factors, you should consider seeking legal help.
Just a few of the many possible scenarios that could violate your rights as an employee include:
- workplaces that have a climate of harassment,
- being asked to perform illegal activities for an employer
- working hours without pay (being denied overtime)
- lack of, or being denied, family leave
- free speech issues – being fired or harassed for opinions or for union activity.
- being terminated for whistleblowing or being part of a class action suit.
All of these examples are serious matters that could have the potential to lead to recovery of lost wages, punitive damages, and legal fees.
For almost all of us, work is a necessity. Employers should respect the law and respect you.
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