Staying Informed: Defending Your Rights in the Workplace
The workplace should be somewhere employees feel safe, included and appreciated. When these basic rights are compromised it is important for those involved to be informed of their employee rights. Many working in the United States are not aware of Federal and State regulations that are in place to ensure employees are fairly treated and safe on the job.
Since workplace rights depend on a worker’s employment location, the type of job they have and the size of their company, rights may vary, but they generally include the following:
- The right to not be discriminated against on the basis of:
- National origin
- Military status
- The right to a safe and harassment free workplace.
- The right to take family medical leave and leave after having a baby.
- The right to fair pay.
To be sure of your rights, go online and stay up to date on the regulations for your state. For example, Ohio has a Civil Rights Act that explains how equal employment opportunity is the law and shares the rights and how to take action and file a complaint.
If it is unclear if lines are being crossed, it is best to understand that harassment, discrimination and all rights as an employee are just that, rights. Speaking up against being treated differently, asking for accommodations for disabilities or religious reasons are not out of line, or bothering your employer. Rather these are the rights deserved by all workers and it is important to understand what they are and how to use them.
Employers should be well educated in these laws and regulations. Any concerns should be discussed with an employer in a professional manner. Although this may be hard or stressful, the law protects against retaliation when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.
Opening communication with employers, being strong on our rights as workers and standing up for others whose rights have been violated will promote healthy and promising workplaces.