Advising and Advocating for Employees

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Claims of Discrimination

Various employment laws protect you from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, including pregnancy, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, color, national origin, and genetic information. It is illegal for an employer to base important decisions, such as hiring, pay, promotion and firing  on these characteristics. The law also requires that employers pay women and men at the same rate, for the same work, regardless of whether there is actual evidence of intentional discrimination.    

Hostile Work Environment

Employers are obligated to protect you from a hostile work environment based on such factors as race, sex (including pregnancy), religion, age, and disability.   Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, name calling, intimidation, or  physical assaults.  It is illegal when enduring the conduct is a condition of employment and the conduct is severe and pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive.  You are entitled to protection from supervisors, co-workers, even contractors and customers, and anyone else you have to deal with as a part of your job.  

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, and it is illegal.  It can can come in the form of a threat of termination, or a promise of promotion, to pressure you to date, or have sex.  A hostile work environment based on sex is also a form of sexual harassment.  It can arise when you are subjected to offensive jokes or comments, unwanted touching, and repeated requests for dates, among other kinds of conduct.  You are entitled to be protected from anyone you have to deal with as a part of the job. 

Improper Pay Practices

The law requires that you be paid at least minimum wage, and paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a seven-day work week.  Some employers improperly pay employees on a salaried basis to avoid paying overtime. And, if you are supposed to be paid overtime, your employer can't ask you to waive the overtime pay, or work off the clock. 


Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities

If you have a qualifying disability and your company has more than 15 employees, your employer may be required to provide assistance, called an "accommodation" to help you do your job.  An employer may not refuse to hire someone who is disabled, if they could do the job with a reasonable accommodation. 

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

If you are covered under the FMLA and you, or a close family, member suffers from a serious health condition, or if you need leave for the birth or adoption of a baby, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and your employer is required to hold your job for you.