In the United States, employees are guaranteed certain rights in the workplace under federal and state laws. Since the laws are complex and varied, it is important to seek legal counsel from an experienced employment lawyer to determine whether your employee rights were violated. However, gaining a basic understanding of employment law and possible signs of illegal actions can help you decide when to seek legal guidance.
Employer-Employee Relationship and the Law
In our country, employers have the right to decide who they want to hire, and employees have the right to choose where they want to work. Furthermore, most states, including Pennsylvania, are at-will states, meaning that an employee can quit at any time, and an employer can terminate a worker for any cause, as long as the reason is not illegal. Getting fired may be viewed by the courts as a violation of your employee rights; it depends upon the circumstances and the basis for the employer’s decision. Your rights may have been violated if any of the following occur:
- You were laid off after filing a Workers’ Compensation claim
- You and other older employees were laid off while younger, inexperienced workers were not
- After you ask for unpaid time off to handle family, caregiving, or medical issues, your employer fires you or denies your request
- You are physically segregated from other workers for no valid reason
- You are not allowed to wear religious clothing, even though it does not violate the dress code or interfere with your work
- You are refused a promotion that was given to a lesser qualified applicant
Whether these actions were illegal will depend upon the basis for your employer’s actions. If your employer made these decisions primarily based on your race, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability, then it was illegal. Sexual harassment in the workplace is also illegal. Pregnant women cannot be fired or denied promotions simply because they are pregnant. Under certain circumstances, discrimination based on sexual orientation is also against the law.
Illegal discrimination in the workplace may occur at different times during the employer-employee relationship, including:
- Use of company facilities
If you were denied overtime pay after working more than 40 hours per week or you were classified as a contractor when you should have been categorized as an employee entitled to benefits, your employer may be misclassifying you illegally to reduce their cost of doing business.
What You Should Do If Your Rights Have Been Violated
If you believe your employer is breaking the law by violating your employee rights, the first step you should take is to contact your supervisor or your company’s Human Resources representative. Make detailed notes of when you alerted them, what you said, and their response.
If they ignore your complaint or appear to be retaliating, contact an experienced employment lawyer for legal guidance. Depending upon the laws of your state, it may be in your best interest for your attorney to help you file a lawsuit or file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint.
Philadelphia Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Defend Employees’ Rights
If you believe your rights have been violated in the workplace, contact one of our experienced Philadelphia employment discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. today. We will determine the best course of action and assist in collecting evidence and building a case. For a free consultation, call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and South Jersey.