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Do I still have rights as an employee?

As an employee, it is sometimes easy to forget that you have certain rights under the law. It seems like every other day another news story rolls out about businesses stripping away another layer of our rights, or of new federal de-regulation giving employers more power than ever.

While this may or not be true, there are certain broad rights that every employee currently enjoys. If you have a concern about your rights being violated in the workplace, it is wise to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you understand the nuances of your experience in the context of the constantly-changing legal landscape of business regulations.

In broad strokes, employees are guaranteed protection against discrimination or harassment. This can take many forms, and certain states have looser statutes about discrimination against certain individuals. However, no individual should have to feel harassed in the workplace.

Employees also should generally expect to be safe in the workplace. Entities such as OSHA evaluate enforce workplace safety, and an employee should never have to feel unsafe in the work place. There are some notable exceptions in jobs with and implied amount of danger, such as mining, but even these employers must abide by safety regulations.

Should you file a complaint that you are harassed or unsafe, or if you witness illegal behavior on the part of a coworker or employer, you are guaranteed protection against retaliation. Of course, if any rights are violated, or if you blow the whistle on an employer or coworker, you should always document as much as possible. The more complete your documentation, the more airtight your case will be if you must litigate.

Unfortunately, in order for these protections to be enforced, it is often necessary to use the strength of the court. The frustrating reality is that the rights you have as an employee are constantly under attack and must be defended, for yourself and all other workers. If you believe that your rights have been violated in the workplace, proper legal counsel can help you evaluate your situation and create a plan to reclaim your rights and fight for justice.

Source: findlaw, "Employees Rights 101," accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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