Employees in the United States are protected by a number of labor laws, but there are times when employers don’t follow the labor laws and guidelines in the states in which they do business. Having some basic knowledge about what your rights are as an employee is important, as it can help you determine when you aren’t being treated fairly by your employer.
Many times, disputes between workers and their employers can be successfully handled through a company’s human resources department. If you have already gone that route and are not satisfied with the outcome, hiring a labor lawyer might be a good idea.
According to Cary Kane Legal, a law office in New York City that specializes in labor issues, “You should consider hiring a labor lawyer if you are a victim of wrongful discharge, sexual harassment, discrimination, failure to accommodate pregnancy or family medical illness, violation of your rights under wage and hour laws, or retaliation for exercising your rights under the law.”
See below to learn more about times when hiring a labor lawyer might be a good idea.
Health and Safety Violations in the Workplace
When you’re at work, your employer is responsible for your health and safety. This not only means that they need to provide you with safe working conditions, an employer is also responsible for providing its employees with any safety equipment necessary for their jobs, such as hard hats or protective eye wear. Employers are also responsible for making sure their employees receive proper training in any safe working practices necessary for their jobs. Employers must also make sure that the environment that their employees work in is clean, has adequate climate control, and that the air and water quality are acceptable.
If you feel that your employer is not handling any of these measures properly, resulting in a threat to your health or safety, you should talk to your employer’s human resources department. If the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction, it might be time to hire a labor lawyer.
Age-Related, Sexual, LGBTQ, or Religious Discrimination
Employers in the United States are not allowed to discriminate against job candidates during the hiring process, or against their current employees, on the basis of their age, gender, religion or sexual orientation. This type of discrimination can take many forms and is sometimes difficult to detect or prove. If you feel that you were not hired for a job because of your age, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, or were unfairly dismissed from a position or passed over for a promotion because of one of these reasons, even though your work productivity was the same or better as that of your peers, you might want to think about hiring a labor lawyer, no matter what type of discrimination you’ve been involved in. By searching ‘lawyers for religious rights near me’ or including the specific matter, there is always a lawyer for you.
Wage or Overtime Pay Violations
In most states, employers are required to pay workers who earn an hourly wage one and a half times their regular wage for every hour they work in a given week that exceeds 40 hours. This is known as overtime pay.
All states also have a minimum wage law, which refers to the minimum amount of money that hourly workers must be paid for each hour that they work.
If your employer is not paying you for the number of overtime hours you work or if you are not receiving the minimum amount of pay per hour mandated by the state you work in, you should file a complaint with your company’s human resources department. If the issue is not resolved in a timely manner, you might want to consider hiring a labor lawyer.
Discrimination Due to a Disability
United States employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees when making decisions about promotions, or job candidates when making hiring decisions, due to them having a physical disability. Such disabilities can include being blind or deaf, being confined to a wheelchair, or being an amputee. (Exceptions to this rule include jobs that a disabled person might not be able to perform because of their condition. A person who is blind would not be able to drive a taxi, for example.)
Employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. These can include modified equipment or office furniture, special training or software, or providing a handicapped parking space or flexible work schedule.
If you have a disability and feel that you have been unfairly passed over for a promotion or have been denied reasonable accommodations that are necessary for you to do your job, you might consider consulting a labor lawyer.