Employment law: employee rights, employer responsibilities


Whether it is seasonal, temporary, part-time or full-time employment, most people at some point in their lives have held a job and either completed a written job application and/or undergone an interview process. We have all been there. However, how many people actually understand and know of their rights in an employment setting? Here is a quick overview of employment law, employee rights and employer responsibilities.

Employment law is a diverse area of law and encompasses various topics such as workplace safety, labor laws, wages, workplace discrimination and wrongful termination. Both federal and state laws may be applicable. In most cases, if an individual's employment is based on a valid employment contract, the terms contained in the contract govern. In such cases, state law applies.

Regardless of one's type of employment, every employee has several basic rights in their workplace, which include a right to fair compensation, a workplace free of recognized safety and health hazards, a limited right to privacy and a place of work free from discriminatory practices. Thus, an employer during and after the hiring process cannot discriminate against a person based on his or her race, ethnicity, disability, age, gender, religion or national origin.

In fact, federal regulations, such as the Occupational Safety & Health Act, govern workplace safety. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender and national origin. The Americans With Disabilities Act prevents discrimination based on a qualified disability, as defined by the law. Furthermore, under the ADA, reasonable accommodations must be made for the person based on his or her disability. Other applicable federal regulations include the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FLSA sets forth the total number of hours that a person can work, how many breaks employees are given and more. On the other hand, the FMLA provides for a 12-week leave of absence that an employee can take in certain situations, without fear of losing his or her job, based on a qualified medical condition.

Source: Findlaw, "Employment Law 101," accessed Aug. 19, 2014

Source: Findlaw, "Employment Law 101," accessed Aug. 19, 2014

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