Prejudice in the workplace can result in discrimination, affecting every aspect of a worker’s job, including how much they are paid, whether promotions are denied, and how work assignments are made. Discrimination during the hiring and firing process, as well as during training opportunities and other benefit decisions, is also a violation of state and federal law.
Employers who segregate employees, deny them equal opportunities, refuse to hire or terminate an individual based on their skin color, sex, race, religion, or national origin are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. There are additional statutes that protect workers against specific types of discrimination under other date and federal laws, including:
- Equal Pay/Gender Equality
- Sexual Orientation
- Sexual Harassment
- Pregnancy/Family Responsibility
- Marital Status
Organizations don’t always do the right thing, and sometimes it’s up to employees to bring it to their attention. Under state and federal laws, employers are forbidden from punishing workers or applicants for speaking up and asserting their rights under the law. Retaliation can take many forms, such as:
- Demotion or transfer to a less desirable job
- Verbal or physical abuse
- Denying benefits and opportunities
- Increased scrutiny
- Making the job purposefully more difficult
- Giving a poor performance review when it is undeserved
Employees who file a complaint or participate in a complaint process are protected from retaliation. If you come to us before reporting illegal conduct, we can help minimize potential negative reactions and set you up to be protected under the law. If you have already reported illegal conduct, we can help you recognize whether retaliation has occurred and developed a plan to address it.
Losing your job unexpectedly can cause financial difficulties and undue amounts of stress. Although some states have a public policy or other exceptions, all 50 states in the U.S are at-will employment states. This means that you can be fired whether your workplace has cause or for no cause at all for your termination. However, if your employment was terminated for an unlawful reason, which includes reasons such as discrimination or in retaliation for whistleblowing, you may have grounds for a claim.
Responsible workers are the public’s best means for discovering illegal conduct committed by managers, executives, corporations, and other entities. Employees who report unlawful actions by their employer may face harassment, unfair treatment, or termination as a result of their report. Unfortunately, there are also more subtle retaliation methods. They include:
- Being subjected to an unsafe work environment
- Verbal or physical abuse
- Denial of promotions, benefits, or bonuses
Several federal laws, which include the Whistleblower Protection Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, are in place to protect employees who are brave enough to speak up and do the right thing. There are also other federal and state laws depending on the circumstances, industry, and jurisdiction that may apply. If you believe you’ve been targeted because you filed a complaint against your employer for violating the law, you might be able to recover compensation.
The Fair Labor Standards Act
The FLSA protects the rights of U.S. workers from unfair employment practices. It covers full-time and part-time workers in the private sector as well as local, state, and federal government employees. Organizations that fail to comply with employment laws can face stringent penalties that include fines and paying back wages to their affected workers. Despite the FLSA protections, there are still several common labor law violations.
Misclassification of Employees
The way your employer classifies your position can affect certain legal rights, including overtime pay. By misclassifying employees, they can avoid certain responsibilities, including overtime pay. Generally, Employers have three options to categorize their workers:
Workers who earn more than $684 per week and are paid as a salaried employee are generally considered exempt, although there may be exceptions. If you have an exempt position, you are likely not protected by the FLSA, nor are you entitled to overtime pay.
Employees in positions categorized as non-exempt may be entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a single workweek. The hourly wage and the amount you earn per week does not determine whether you are eligible for overtime.
Workers who perform the same duties as an employee but are not classified as employees are independent contractors. The FLSA doesn’t protect individuals holding this type of position. They are not entitled to workers’ compensation or unemployment and must handle their own taxes.
Non-Compliance with Overtime Laws
Professionals who earn at least $684 per week, including administrators, executives, certain salespersons, farm employees and others, are exempt from the overtime laws. However, employees, such as nurses, are entitled to overtime compensation. The FLSA addresses standards related to overtime pay. It is set at 1.5 times that of the regular hourly rate if an employee works more than 40 hours in a week.
Failure to Meet Minimum Wage Requirements
While the Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, each state may vary. For example, in Arizona, it’s $12.00; in Illinois, it’s $9.25; and in Minnesota, it’s between $8.15 and $10.00, depending on the size of the employer. Employers who fail to pay the minimum wage required in their state may leave themselves open to a lawsuit. They may also be in violation of the FLSA, depending on the situation.
Halunen Law Employment Lawyers
Employment law is complex, and you need legal counsel that knows how to navigate the legal process and who is successful in the courtroom. Our national employment law attorneys understand that employers may claim they have a legitimate reason for the actions they took against you.
We can explain your options, evaluate your claim, and guide you through the legal process. At Halunen Law, we have years of trial experience and work to protect the rights of our clients. If you have been unfairly treated and want to learn more about your rights, contact us today or call 866-523-8533 to schedule a free consultation.