What Business Owners Need to Know About Employee Rights

As a business owner, you know that your employees have basic rights. But what are those rights? What steps can you take to help protect those rights?

Federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws generally apply to businesses with 15 or more employees. But many states have their own EEO laws that may apply to small businesses with fewer employees.

Having a better understanding of employee protections and discrimination laws can help your business avoid lawsuits and legal investigations.

Employees Have th07e Right to Freedom from Discrimination

All employees have a right to freedom from discrimination, which means employers need to be careful when hiring, firing and promoting employees.

Federal and state laws provide legal sanctions for protected employee classes. These laws include:

Some states also have laws that prohibit discrimination based on marital status, sexual orientation and weight.

Employees Have a Right to Privacy

Employees also have a right to privacy, which means their personal belongings cannot be searched. These rights also extend to job candidates before they’re hired. This means that employers cannot run a background or credit check without written permission.

With that said, employee privacy rights do not extend to Internet or email use on a business’s network or computer.

Employees are Protected Against Retaliation

Better known as “whistleblower” rights, employees have the right to stop, testify or report employer actions that are illegal, unethical or violate public policies without fear of retribution.

If an employee takes action against an employer for being discriminatory or negligent about workplace safety, the employer cannot retaliate.

Employees Have the Right to Fair Compensation

All employees have the right to fair wages, and there are several laws that protect this right.

For example, nonexempt employees must be paid at least the federal minimum wage. Some states and cities have also enacted their own minimum wage laws, which must be followed by all businesses. In some areas of the country, minimum wage is set to $15 an hour or more.

Under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, male and female workers must receive the same amount of compensation for completing the same work at the same skill level. But even with this law in place, women still only earn $0.79 for every dollar a man earns.

These are basic employee rights that every business owner needs to know and understand to avoid legal complications. It’s important to research and understand all local employment laws to ensure that your business adheres to local and federal regulations.

Adam Richards

About Adam Richards

Adam Richards is a semi-retired business professional originally from Bangor, Maine. He spent the majority of his career in sales and marketing where he rose to the marketing lead of a Fortune 1000 company. He then moved on to helping people as a career counselor that specifically helped bring families to self-sufficiency through finding them rewarding careers. He has now returned to Bangor for his retirement and spends his free time writing. This blog will be about everything he learned throughout his career. He'll write on career, workplace, education and technology issues as well as on trends, changes, and advice for the Maine job market and its employers.