A series of complex local, state, and federal laws provide workers with widespread protections against abuse by their employer. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for employees to put up with anything ranging from minor to gross mistreatment simply because they’re not aware of their rights. Not only should American workers understand their rights, they should know that they may have the right to sue their employer in certain situations. While we are sorry if you find yourself in this situation, it’s good to know that the law allows you to pursue legal action if necessary.
Typical Workplace Legal Issues in the United States
While numerous situations may arise at work that cross the line into illegal territory, the following are some of the most common reasons for which clients visit The Riddell Law Group in Martinsburg, WV:
- Age discrimination: Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 1967, making it illegal to discriminate against workers over age 40 for any reason.
- Disability discrimination: Employers must not discriminate in hiring or promotion of a disabled individual if that person otherwise has the qualifications needed to perform the job duties. They must also make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees if necessary.
- Gender, race, or religious discrimination: Employers cannot discriminate against employees or prospective employees based on any of these factors. They must also provide reasonable accommodations for employees to practice their religion unless it creates an undue hardship for the business.
- Harassment: You have the right to a harassment-free work environment from superiors, subordinates, and co-workers.
- Hour and wage: If you’re not earning at least minimum wage or your employer has shorted you commission or other payments, don’t hesitate to request to work with one of our employment lawyers.
- Meals and rest breaks: The law requires employers to offer an unpaid meal break and one or more paid shorter breaks for employees who work a certain number of hours each day. You may be entitled to file a claim with our Martinsburg, WV law office if your employer ever refused to allow you to take meal and/or rest breaks.
- Overtime pay: Employers must typically pay non-exempt workers one and one-half times their regular pay for any hours worked over 40 in a single week. However, this doesn’t always mean work weeks running from Sunday to Saturday since some employers set up their payroll differently. Be sure to ask for clarification from your employer if you’re not certain of when a work week starts and ends or whether you’re considered exempt or non-exempt.
- Pregnancy discrimination: An employer may not discriminate against a pregnant female employee, refuse maternity leave, demote an employee upon returning from maternity leave, or ask questions about family status during a job interview.
- Wrongful termination: Although West Virginia employers are entitled, under at-will employment laws, have substantial latitude in terminating employees, they are not entitled to fire an employee for the wrong reasons, i.e. a reason which violates a substantial public policy of the state of West Virginia, such as refusing to engage in fraud or criminal activity.
- Violence: Have you been the victim of on-the-job violence? If so, you may be able to sue your employer for lack of protection or the person who assaulted you directly.
- Whistleblowing and retaliation: Employees who make a report of illegal activity in the company in good faith receive protection from the federal government. This is known as the Whistleblower Law. Additionally, employers or co-workers may not retaliate against an employee who files a whistleblower report.
Do You Recognize Any of These Illegal Actions?
While none of the above should ever happen to an employee, unfortunately they do all too often. If you feel that you have been subjected to illegal activity at work, we invite you to connect with an employment lawyer at our Martinsburg, WV law office for a free initial consultation today.