They say ignorance is bliss. But they also say ignorance is expensive. So make your choice wisely. Many black employees in the workplace do not know their rights. This makes it difficult to know when there is a violation of their rights.
It’s no secret that black people suffer more discrimination at workplaces than in any other place. Thus, until we win the fights against racism and discrimination, the first step is knowing your rights.
This is because most employers are aware of the state of the job market. The pandemic has seen to millions of Americans losing their jobs. This means that the majority of workers count themselves lucky.
Bad employers who are aware of this can abuse this fact. But, knowing your employee rights will help you ensure they are not violated. And peradventure, that happens, you will also know what to do.
7 Employee Rights You Need To Know
- Privacy Rights
Generally, all employees are entitled to the privacy of their personal belongings. This includes your locker, handbags, phones. These are your personal space and nobody should trifle with it.
However, employers have a legal right to monitor some calls, emails, or internet searches of the employee. This is especially when they are made using the company’s telephone or internet connection.
This helps companies to detect any criminal activity or breach of company policies. Likewise, employers detect workers who are abusing the work system through this.
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- Safe Workplace Environment
Another important employee rights you must know is the requirement of a safe work environment. The law requires every employer to provide their employees with a safe workspace.
This is an environment free from all health and safety hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlined certain standards employers must adhere to. This includes but is not limited to :
- Proper training of workers
- Non- exposure of workers to hazardous chemicals
- Provision of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Presence of first aid and medical treatment for workers
- Protection from fire outbreaks
- Harassment-free Work Environment
There are so many laws set in place to ensure that the workplace is harassment-free for employees. This is many employees suffer discrimination either through their employers or even co-workers.
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Hence, it is illegal for an employer to pay different wages to certain workers due to their gender. This includes any form of discrimination based on age, pregnancy, or disability.
Likewise, you must not be discriminated against based on your race, ethnicity, or nationality. Any such acts is a legal ground to file an employment discrimination charge at the EEOC office.
- Reasonable Working Hours and Rest Breaks
Different State Laws have different provisions for workers’ rest and meal breaks. Different companies or workplaces adapt this to suit their policies.
But basically, every worker is to get at least 20 minutes rest-break every day. This is to enable them to eat and refresh in preparation for the next working hours.
In the same vein, the traditional business hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. This means that in five working days, the average number of hours for workers totals 40 hours. But, this can change subject to the agreement of both workers and employers.
- Fair Pay
Every worker is worthy of his wages. The Fair Labor Standard Acts (FLSA) agrees with this. Hence the law obligates employers to pay workers for the number of hours worked for.
This why it is illegal for any employer to refuse to pay a worker’s wages. Irrespective of the reason, payment is to at least be on a quantum merit basis.
- Overtime Wages
Another vital employee right is the payment of overtime wages by employers. The Labor Law requires employers to pay overtime wages to employees who work more than the stipulated time.
Hence, when employees work more than 40 hours a week, they are entitled to a time-and-a-half rate of their salary. This means their total hourly salary plus half of it.
However, not every employee is eligible for overtime wages. Employees who are exempt workers, i.e salaried employees are not eligible for overtime pay.
- Family and Medical Leave
Family and medical leave are yet another employee rights workers enjoy. Employees who have worked for an employer for a year or at least 1,250 hours enjoy certain rights. This is more so when the employer has more than 50 employed workers.
Some of these employee rights include job protection. For pregnant women, they get 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. This also applies where a worker is recovering from a sickness. Or they have to take care of a family member who is gravely ill.
Many black workers suffer unimaginable treatments at the workplace. But because many do not know their rights, they fail to seek redress.
To be able to stand up against the violation of your rights in the workplace, you must know your employee rights. Knowing them will help you know which form of redress to seek. These seven employee rights are a good place to start.