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The 5 Most Important Pieces of Legislation That Support Your Rights as an Employee

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It’s important that you know your rights as an employee so that you can stand up for them. Some you probably know well, such as your right to work free of discrimination of harassment, while others may be less familiar to you. But where do these rights actually come from? Here’s an overview of the most relevant sources of employee laws you should be aware of:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

    Many of the most important rights for employees come from Title VII. This is what prohibits hiring discrimination and harassment related to race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

  • Americans With Disabilities Act

    This act, better known as ADA, prohibits discrimination based on mental or physical disabilities. The law says that if an employee with a disability can still perform the essential duties of his or her job when given reasonable accommodation, then employers must make that accommodation.

  • Fair Labor Standards Act

    The Fair Labor Standards Act regulates the length of workdays, the number of breaks employees must receive and when overtime applies.

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act

    At the federal level, age discrimination protections apply to workers 40 years of age or older, and prohibits favoring younger workers at the expense of older ones. It’s important to note that these standards do not prevent employers from favoring older workers (though some states have additional protections for young workers).

  • Family and Medical Leave Act

    This act, often referred to as FMLA, allows eligible employees to take a 12-week leave of absence from their jobs for certain medical reasons; their jobs must be held for them in the meantime.

It’s important to note that not all employers are subject to all these regulations (Title VII, for example, only applies to employers with at least 15 employees). You should also know that states, counties and even cities may grant workers in their jurisdictions further protections; you may have more generous laws regarding compensation and time off, for example, where you live. It’s best to check with a local employment lawyer to be sure.

Finally, if you’re considering confronting your employer regarding your rights as an employee, it’s important to educate yourself regarding wrongful dismissal law. If you are standing up for legally protected rights or taking advantage of legally granted benefits, then it is illegal for an employer to retaliate by firing or demoting you.

What other questions do you have about employment law? Join the discussion in the comments.

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