Basic Employee Rights Every Employee Needs to Know

There was a time when employee rights in the United States were nothing but a myth. From unsafe working conditions and gory accidents to sexual harassment without consequence, workers had to endure a lot to earn their bread. 

Fortunately, the tide has shifted. In the early 20th century, a massive push for employee rights resulted in the passing of multiple employment laws that American workers rely on to this date. At their core, employee rights are human rights that protect workers against undue exploitation. Health and safety aside, they also ensure fair treatment for all employees, regardless of their age, sex, or ethnicity. 

Learning about these federal employment laws can help you navigate difficult situations and avoid oppression in the workplace. Let’s look at some basic employee rights every worker must know. 

#1. Right to Fair Pay

You are entitled to fair compensation for your efforts. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay a minimum wage to every employee. The federally mandated minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour, although this figure varies from state to state – and even sometimes within a state. (For example, in New York, the minimum wage for most workers in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester is $15.00. As of December 31, 2021, the minimum wage for most workers elsewhere in New York will increase to $13.20 per hour.)

Employers are also required to pay overtime wages to employees who work more than their designated hours in a week. 

Additionally, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits wage discrimination based on gender. In other words, men and women in the same workplace must be given equal pay for equal work. If you feel that your worker’s right to fair pay has been violated, you should reach out to an employee rights attorney for legal assistance. 

#2. Right to File Complaints

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Fiscal Year 2020 Enforcement and Litigation data show that a staggering 55.8% of all charges filed with the agency involved retaliation. 

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer strikes back at a worker for engaging in a protected activity. For example, if you file a complaint of discrimination, your employer may illegally retaliate in one or more of the following ways:

  •  Verbal (and/or physical) abuse;
  • Demotions, denial of promotion, and termination; and  
  • Reduced wages

Needless to say, this is against your employee rights and should be investigated by an employee rights lawyer. Employee rights attorneys have the legal experience and training to help you fight against any unjust retaliatory action initiated by your employer.

Also, remember that an employer cannot retaliate against you if you act under the Department of Labor’s whistleblower protection employment laws. If you find that your employer is violating any of your employee rights, you should be able to report it without any fear of vengeance. 

Get a Lawyer to Defend Your Employee Rights

Today, American employees enjoy a host of legal protections designed to safeguard their best interests. Once you are fully aware of these rights, you will be best positioned to counter illegal and/or exploitative workplace practices.

Do you feel that your employee rights have been violated? Are you looking to take legal action against your employer? Look no further than Bantle & Levy LLP. As experienced employee rights attorneys in New York, we can work with you to ensure your safety and safeguard your labor rights. For more information, reach out to us today!

Bantle & Levy

Lee Bantle is a partner at Bantle & Levy LLP. He has extensive legal expertise, admitted to the bars of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. With a distinguished academic background and clerkship experience, he has been recognized as a top-rated civil rights attorney and esteemed lawyer. In addition to his successful career, he has actively contributed to various legal organizations and serves as a faculty member for NYU's Annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.

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