The Top 3 Things Employment Rights Attorneys Wish Workers Knew

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All too often, employees aren’t informed as to their workplace rights. Sometimes, employees are just too scared to stand up for their rights. But these employee laws are put in place to protect workers from exploitation, and they’re a vital part of ensuring fair working conditions. Here’s what employment rights attorneys wish that all employees knew:

  1. You Are Legally Entitled to Breaks

    Break time is legally mandated; it’s as simple as that. And while there are a few exceptions depending on the kind of work, you’re not technically allowed to perform work duties during breaks.

    One common problem is that employers ask employees to skip breaks in order to set themselves apart. Instead, you should try to find other ways to indicate that you’re management material. Try telling your employer something like “I’m a real stickler for the rules, so I can’t do that on my break time. But I’d be happy to take on that assignment!”

  2. Harassment Takes Several Forms

    There are two basic forms of sexual harassment in the workplace: creating a hostile work environment and setting up a quid pro quo situation. In the first, a colleague or boss does things that make you uncomfortable in such a way that it makes it difficult for you to work. Common examples include asking personal or sexual questions, placing sexually explicit materials in plain sight and using vulgarities or sexually demeaning language. Quid pro quo harassment is when a supervisor links promotion or demotion to sexual favors.

    If one of your co-workers is sexually harassing you in either of these ways, you should always first try to report the matter to a supervisor or human resources staff in the hopes that it will be resolved internally; your employer is required by law to take action. If your boss is the one who is harassing you, you should still make official reports, but it’s more likely you’ll need to get employment rights attorneys involved.

  3. Your Employer May Not Discriminate or Retaliate

    Just as there are rules against discrimination in hiring, there are rules dictating if your employer may fire you. Your employer must, for example, make reasonable accommodation for a disability instead of firing you. If you need something to perform your job duties, you are not asking your employer for a favor; you are simply asking them to comply with laws that are already in place. (If your disability is due to a workplace injury — on top of the 18 people on average who die each day due to work-related injury or illness, even more are injured — you have even more to consider, since if employer negligence contributed to the accident, you may need to pursue a personal injury claim. In all but about 4% of cases, these are settled outside of court.)

    Your employer is prohibited from firing you for making such a request or in retaliation for reporting failure to comply. If you do lose your job over such an issue, it’s important that you contact one or more employment rights attorneys, as this constitutes a case of wrongful dismissal. Unfair dismissal claims have actually risen by approximately 260% in the past two decades.

Has this information made you more likely to stand up for your rights as an employee? Have you ever faced any challenges to your legally ensured rights in the workplace? Share your experience in the comments.

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