The vast majority of employment in the United States occurs on an at-will basis. This means that unless a specific contract exists stating otherwise, an employee can leave a job at any time for any reason at all or for no reason, and employers have the right to fire employees for any legal reason or no reason at all. Specific employees’ contracts, written promises, and even oral agreements may encourage job security, but it is up to employees to know their rights in the workplace.
Consider the following eight most commonly overlooked workplace rights and contact an experienced Tampa employment attorney if you think your employer has violated your rights as an employee.
Employees typically have the right to privacy when it comes to personal belongings brought into a workplace, private mail addressed to the employee, and phone and email conversations. If a company handles very sensitive or potentially dangerous information or products, it may restrict the privacy levels of email accounts and other work-related communications for security purposes, but it must clearly notify employees of such policies.
Employers may not discriminate or make employment-related decisions based on race, age, sex, religion, or any other protected status. Employees have the right to a workplace free of harassment for their individual protected characteristics.
Employers must address safety issues as soon as they discover them or take steps to prevent a known safety issue from causing injuries to employees. Employers must also follow applicable government standards for the type of work it does. For example, energy companies must comply with regulations from the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other government agencies. Employees have the right to notify these agencies of violations in good faith.
Typically, an employer will stipulate a pay arrangement during the hiring process. While some delays are inevitable, such as deposits made on bank holidays, employers must pay their employees in full and on time every pay period.
Employees may receive subpoenas to testify as witnesses in legal matters involving an employer, and the employer cannot take negative actions against an employee for honestly answering questions under oath, even if his or her answers harm the company’s image. Employees also have the right to exercise their constitutional rights on their own time. For example, an employer cannot fire an employee for engaging in political activities during days off or personal time.
If an employee must make up work or re-do a project, the employer cannot demand the employee complete the work off the clock or otherwise allow the employee to perform unpaid work.
Employees have the right to fair pay, and they are at liberty to discuss their personal salaries however they see fit.
Employers must accurately categorize independent contractors, part-time employees, seasonal employees, temporary employees, and full-time employees for several reasons. Some employers will attempt to classify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying for benefits or for tax purposes, but an employee can argue for employee status in a legal situation if his or her employment arrangements fit the legal definition of an employee.
Whenever an employee believes an employer violates these rights, several possible remedies exist. Contact a reliable and experienced Tampa employment attorney if you have a question about recent workplace activity or think an employer has violated your rights.