What Rights Do I Have as an Employee?

Employees have various protections under national employment law. These regulations dictate your rights and your employer’s responsibilities.

These laws can help guarantee legal entitlements like:

  • Minimum wages
  • Overtime and PTO
  • Protection against discrimination and harassment
  • HIPAA privacy requirements
  • Wrongful termination litigation

You deserve to know these rights and how they protect your interests. Furthermore, they play a substantial role in fostering healthy and safe workplaces.

However, employee rights differ from state to state or business to business. For instance, there are different considerations for right-to-work states. Since there are discrepancies, we cover the most common rights given to employees below.


Discrimination in the workplace is when an employer takes action against an employee based on prejudice.

There are many types of discrimination subject to federal legal protection, including the following:

  • Race: Organizations cannot make staffing decisions based on race, skin color, or associating with other ethnicities.
  • National Origin: Hiring managers do not have the right to avoid considering someone because they are from a different country.
  • Religion: There have been recent instances where religion in the workplace can be a taboo subject. Nonetheless, employers cannot discriminate because of your spirituality.
  • Sex: Employers that deny work opportunities based on sex or gender have broken the law. This provision includes women who are pregnant.
  • Military Status: Past, present, or future military obligations should not affect your civilian career.


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum wage and overtime pay standards. The current federal requirement is $7.25 per hour.

Regardless, most states provide wages higher than the federal minimum. In these cases, employers must comply with state and federal laws.

Additionally, employees who work overtime should receive no less than one and a half times their regular rate. But here are some notable exemptions to this right that include the following:

  • Making a salary that is at least twice the minimum wage
  • Unlicensed or uncertified professionals
  • Managerial or executive employees
  • Union members
  • Industry-specific workers

Your pay stub should also show details that prove compliance or violation of the wage laws. If you discover missing overtime pay or have any questions, contact your employer or HR representative.

Breaks and Working Hours

The FLSA does not define work hours. But it does specify that nonexempt employees do not have to work more than 40 hours without overtime.

Your time on the job includes any work you permit. The problem with this arrangement is that you may work off the clock to appease employers.

For instance, you might take a report home or finish work-related errands before arriving for a shift. These actions are illegal under the FLSA because you do not receive compensation.

Furthermore, federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks. Although, some states have laws mandating limitations.

Work break laws vary, including meals and rest times. Generally, you should have one meal break for a shift of more than five consecutive hours. Many companies will also provide small, paid resting breaks that last no longer than 20 minutes every four hours.

Protection Under Health and Safety Protocols

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures employers provide a safe workplace. Every organization with workers must take steps to deter employees from suffering workplace injury.

OSHA provides safety standards that employers must abide by, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Fostering a workplace free from serious hazards
  • Posting job safety notices
  • Keeping records of all injuries, deaths, and exposure to a hazardous material
  • Safety training;
  • Guaranteeing that employees have safe tools and equipment

Additionally, workplaces must provide first-aid equipment, clean bathrooms, and drinking water. If an employee gets injured at work, there are federal and state laws that can help protect them. Workplace injuries often include:

  • Slip and falls
  • Occupational illnesses
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Psychological injuries

You also have a right to disability benefits like workers’ compensation. As a result, you can receive a percentage of your earned wages when you cannot work. There are also provisions for medical care coverage for the relevant conditions.

Leave and Time-Off

The FLSA does not require employers to provide time off. This limitation includes vacation time, sick leave, or holiday leave. Such benefits are often an agreement between the employee and the employer.

But there is an exception for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA provides workers with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. Other types of leaves required by law include:

  • Military service
  • Voting
  • Jury duty
  • Religious observances

If you work part-time, you may not be eligible for voluntary leaves from your employers. There should be details about what is available in your hiring packets.


Whistleblowers are people who report evidence of wrongdoing. In response, some employers may retaliate and violate the whistleblower laws enforced by OSHA.

According to federal regulations, retaliation can take many forms:

  • Demotions
  • Denying overtime or promotions
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Denying benefits
  • Failing to hire or rehire
  • Firings or laying offs
  • Intimidation
  • Making threats
  • Reducing pay or hours
  • Suspensions

Work With An Experienced Local Lawyer

Employees have the right to a safe, healthy, and productive work environment. By understanding your privileges, you can ensure your workplace is fair for you and your coworkers.

We have an extensive network of local employment lawyers ready to represent you. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to schedule a consultation.

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