CNBC reports that America ranks last among developed nations for worker benefits. As a result, employees have substantially less access to paid sick days, parental leave, and unemployment benefits. Moreover, at-will employment laws give employers the right to terminate jobs without reason or warning.
These facts make it painfully apparent that your bosses often have the upper hand.
What Rights Do You Have as an Employee in an At Will Employment State?
You may feel like you cannot compete with their legal privileges and significant resources. But you might have a legal ground to take that will get you onto an even footing.
Some actions can make an employer liable for a lawsuit by a job candidate or employee. If you believe an organization violated one of the rights described in this article, you should schedule a consultation with a lawyer.
Right to Equal Pay
But despite what should happen, data suggests that notable disparities still exist. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women receive around $0.83 for every $1 a man earns.
This statistic drops notably lower for women of color. Black women get paid 64% of a man’s wages, while Hispanics receive 57%. These are undoubtedly signs of gender discrimination.
Unfortunately, there are substantial challenges to proving unfair wages in court. For example, your employer may claim that seniority and other factors contributed to the difference in pay. In most circumstances, your lawyer must review records and subpoena witnesses to show intent.
Right to Reasonable Accommodation
The first examples of reasonable accommodations you imagine may involve disabled employees. After all, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) changed how employers think of these concerns. Furthermore, this federal law continues to affect architecture and construction planning.
Ideally, you should know your rights as a disabled worker. It is necessary to look at a few examples to demonstrate how far this breakthrough legislation can reach. Some of the accommodations mentioned by the Office of Disability Employment Policy are:
- Building ramps to allow wheelchair access
- Hiring sign language interpreters for meetings
- Changing work policies to allow service dogs to accompany their handlers
- Installing accessibility software for blind employees or those with hearing loss
Reasonable accommodations also extend to your religious practices. For instance, your employer should make exceptions to the dress code for yarmulkes or headscarves. Moreover, your boss cannot make shaving your beard a requirement when you are a Sikh. If you feel unsure about your eligibility, a local discrimination attorney will have the answers you need.
Right Not to Be Harassed
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment as workplace discrimination. Federal legislation has seen regular updates since 1964 to address new concerns. Nonetheless, strengthening these protections has not deterred some employers. But they should not turn a blind eye to prejudicial hiring or firing decisions based on the following:
- Gender Identity
- Sexual Orientation
- National Origin
Employers may try to intimidate you from reporting harassment. Don’t let them get away with it. Gather and protect as much evidence as possible to share with a workplace harassment lawyer.
Right to Protection from Retaliation
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides reports of how it protects employees from retaliation. Consequently, they reported a textbook example in early 2023.
A Burger King employee suffered sexual harassment and reported the store manager to higher-ups. In return, they had their employment terminated. The subsequent lawsuit secured a $60,000 settlement and a two-year consent decree.
You also have a right to report illegal activity to HR or government entities without fear or reprisal. If you believe your employer crossed this legal line, they may have civil liabilities to defend.
Right to Confidentiality
Confidentiality in the workplace has been a notable concern for businesses since 1996. They are right to remain vigilant since even minor violations can create civil liabilities. Generally, your employer cannot give out private information without a legal requirement or legitimate need. But there are even more substantial concerns for group health plans or other medical details.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established strict standards for protecting healthcare information. Furthermore, there are stringent protocols for sharing information with other people or institutions.
Do You Need an Attorney to Protect Your Rights as an At-Will Employee?
A violation of the rights above can break past the bulwark of at-will employment. However, many more situations can justify a civil action. Gender discrimination, harassment, or retaliation are only a few legal options you can explore.
When questioning what rights you have as an employee in an at will employment state we have a network of employment law firms with extensive experience with your circumstances. Request help from them online or by calling (866) 345-6784.