In the United States, employees are protected by both federal and state labor laws.
These laws guarantee employees protection from being discriminated against because of their race, gender, or religion, as well as due to a physical or mental disability.
Labor laws also prohibit employers from forcing hourly employees to work more than 40 hours per week without overtime pay.
These laws also provide health and safety guidelines that employers must follow when it comes to providing their workers with the proper equipment needed to do their jobs, and a safe and healthy work environment.
Some states also require employers to provide their employees with things like a certain number of paid days off, health insurance, or disability insurance.
Unfortunately, there are employers that create a toxic work environment because they don’t adhere to the labor laws that apply to their geographic location or industry standards.
As an employee, it is a good idea to acquire a bit of basic knowledge about what the labor laws are in your state.
Knowing what your rights are, as well as what your employer’s responsibilities are, can help you determine when a problem you might be having at work is the result of your employer violating labor laws.
Most of the time, when an employee has an issue with his or her employer the problem can be resolved internally with the help of the company’s human resources team.
When this approach fails to resolve the problem, however, it might be time for the employee to think about hiring a labor attorney to represent their interests.
Continue reading below to learn about four situations where you might want to consider hiring a labor lawyer.
1. When Your Employer Commits Health and Safety Violations
Employers are responsible for providing employees with any equipment they need to safely do their jobs. Such equipment can include hard hats or safety goggles as well as things like ergonomic keyboards and office chairs. Employers are also responsible for providing employees with proper health and safety training. They must also create a work environment that is clean, free from pests and has adequate climate control. Air and water quality in the workplace must also be at healthy levels.
If you feel that your employer is not handling any of these measures properly, and is threatening 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.
2. Wrongful Termination Due to Age, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Religion or Disability
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against, harass, or wrongfully terminate employees because of their age, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, or because of a disability. This type of discrimination or workplace harassment can take many forms.
If you were fired from your job because of your age, gender, religion or sexual orientation, or were passed over for a promotion due to one of these factors even though the quality of your work was the same or better as that of your coworkers, you might consider consulting a wrongful termination lawyer.
3. Violations Concerning Wages of Overtime Pay
All U.S. states have minimum wage laws that dictate the lowest hourly wage that employers can pay their employees.
In most of the country, employers are also required to compensate workers who are paid by the hour one and a half times their regular wage for every hour of work they complete that exceeds 40 hours in a single workweek.
This is called overtime pay. It is sometimes also referred to as “time and a half.”
If you believe you are not being paid the correct amount per hour according to your state’s minimum wage law or are being cheated out of overtime pay by your employer, you should do something about it as soon as you can.
Be sure to keep track of the number of hours you are working each week on your own and take your case to your employer’s human resources office.
If the HR department does not resolve the issue to your satisfaction, it might be time to consult a labor attorney.
4. Tip Violations
In some states, companies that employ workers who receive tips as part of their workers’ compensation must make sure that those workers actually get to take home the full amount of the tips they earn.
There have been cases where employers keep some of their employees’ tips for themselves, as well as cases where employees unfairly distribute tips among employees who did not earn them.
If you receive tips as part of your pay and feel you are not being allowed to take home the amount that you earn, a labor lawyer might be able to help.