The following laws are for all employees benefits in the United States. Know them, understand them, read case law, and you will go far in protecting your rights. Employers are much less likely to bully, harass, or terminate individuals who know their rights. Confirm everything in writing, know which questions are illegal when you are interviewed or questioned for any reason, keep accurate records of as much as possible, when communicating serious concerns with HR send it via certified mail, and use your local bar association to seek out qualified employment attorneys. Knowledge is power!

 

Whistleblower Laws- There are a variety of laws that protect whistleblowers. Here is a good reference.

http://www.whistleblowerlaws.com/whistleblower-protections-act/

The Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA) protects those age 40 to 70 from being arbitrarily fired, refused a job, forced to retire, or treated unfairly do to a host of reasons because of age.

Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) – This helps companies protect themselves with waivers from claims do to ADEA above. If you are not sure what you are being asked to sign, consult an employment attorney because you could be due a lot more than you are receiving.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects those with disabilities.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) protects American citizens from being undermined by illegal labor.

The Federal Polygraph Protection Act (FPPA) protects against citizens from lie detector tests.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects you when discussing an employer’s labor practices. If you are terminated due to a comment on a social networking site you may have a lawsuit due to breach of your privacy rights. The National Labor Relations Board acts as a court regarding labor law.

The Taft-Hartley Act protects union members from the excesses of employers.

The Landrum-Griffin Act protects employees from union excesses.

Labor Relations Management Act (LRMA) Section 301- allows union members lawsuits against union and employer when there is failure to follow CBA collective bargaining agreement.

The Federal Fair Reporting Act (FFRA) places restrictions on employer’s use of your credit report. Employers are forbidden from using credit reports for hiring decisions. The same is also true of investigative reports.

The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FFERPA) transcripts, recommendations, and financial information are confidential without a student’s consent.

The Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTA), The Racketeer and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and many other labor statutes protect you against phony employment and mail schemes. Know the laws in these areas and you will spot phonies in classified ads more readily. Contact the Federal Trade Commission to investigate any claims in this area.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees your job, duties, title, and pay while on medical leave.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe and healthful work place.

Civil Rights Act 0f 64 and 91- Protects against discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, or national origin.

Federal Equal Pay Act- People doing the same job must be paid equally. This does not apply to temporary and part-time workers.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act- This law extends the time to 180 days past the last pay check that an employee can file a claim of pay discrimination. Always ask your co-workers what they are being paid to see if you are being paid equally.

Federal Social Security Act- Guarantees benefits to qualified hardships, ages, and disabilities.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Governs rules regarding minimum wage, overtime, child restrictions.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) – Pregnancy must be treated fairly as any other medical condition.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) – It gives employees the right to pay premiums for and keep the group health insurance that they would otherwise lose after reducing their work hours, quitting their jobs, or losing their jobs. Most people can keep the insurance for up to 18 months. Some people may be able keep it a few months longer.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) – protects the assets of millions of Americans so that funds placed in retirement plans during their working lives will be there when they retire.

Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPPA) – Provides the ability to transfer and continue health insurance coverage for millions of American workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs and requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information.

Worker’s Compensation- Generally covered under state law. Know your states laws in this area.

Federal Privacy Act- forbids the disclosing of information by Federal employees of information in employee files.

Drug Free Workplace Act- Federal contractors and government agencies have to provide a drug free environment.

Worker Adjustment and Restraining Notification Act (WARN)-  Employers with more than 100 employees are required to give employees and communities 60 days notice of impending layoffs and plant closings that are either permanent or temporary.

Laws on Employee Files- Each state has its own laws. It’s a good idea to review your employee file, especially if your employer is treated you unfairly. It is a good idea to make copies of permissible items, and record what is in it neatly on a legal pad. If an issue ever arises, you will be able to prove that items were added after the fact, and more and likely they will be inadmissible in court. If you find anything you disagree with, place a written rebuttal in the file explaining the situation. There are always two sides to a coin.

Employee Searches- The fourth amendment to the constitution provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure. This applies to government employees, but the lines are a little more screwed for private employers. However, you cannot be searched without a reasonable suspicion given to you. Consult and employment attorney if you feel you have been violated.

Employee Interrogations- If you are restrained or held in a room without being able to leave this is false imprisonment. You have the right to leave a room anytime, remain silent, and consult an attorney. Never be afraid to assert your rights.

Wiretapping and Eavesdropping- Laws vary widely from state to state. Know your states laws. They are generally regulated by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. Generally speaking, you should be notified if you will be taped.  Employers should also keep information from third parties. If the information is improperly released to non-essential parties it could be a costly expense and lawsuit against the employer.

Social Networking and Blogs- It is often illegal for companies to hire or fire based on what is on a social networking site or blog. This applies to “at-will” employment too. Companies usually violate a host of laws regarding privacy, discrimination, and fair financial practices. If you believe an employer has used information acquired in this manner against you, refer to an employment attorney.

Free Speech- Has been protected by many court cases since the 1960’s. However, it is a good idea to know the law before you speak freely.

Here are several rulings based on public employment.

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/FirstReport.PublicEmployees.pdf

Here is information for those in the private sector.

http://www.lcwlegal.com/83284

Generally speaking, rights for private employees are being protected by the courts more each day. If you feel your rights are being violated contact and employment attorney.

Off Duty Conduct– If you are dismissed from work do to your private life, or off-duty conduct, consult and employment attorney immediately. You could have a case of wrongful dismissal or defamation suit.

Employee Interviews- Several laws are violated by improper questions. If you are not sure if a question was illegal research it or contact an employment attorney. Employers often are aware that they ask illegal questions and try to circumvent the rules by asking a general question, “Tell me about yourself.” This allows you to disclose information that might be illegal for them to ask.  A good response would be, “What exactly would you like to know.” Make them be specific and take notes at the interview.

For further information I highly recommend,”The Employee Rights Handbook-Effective Legal Strategies to Protect Your Job From Interview to Pink Slip” by Steven Mitchell Sack

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s