What You Deserve to Know About Employee Rights in the Workplace

Ashwini Kulkarni Sule May 10, 2019
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Everyone should be aware of employee rights in workplace , whether you are an employer or an employee. Negligence to it can land you in a trouble, particularly if you are an employer.
Working involves a plethora of responsibilities, commitments, and ethics. Violation of any of these can not only cost you your reputation, but can also drag you into a long legal battle with your employer.
Although, it is expected that an employee abides by the company laws, it is also the duty of the employer to create a conducive environment for an employee to work in. Several laws are formulated to protect the rights of employees at the workplace.

Dress Code Policy

Employers often define a particular dress code for all the employees in the company.
However, if it has been found that the employer has adopted a biased approach while defining the dress code, employees can sue the organization for 'employment discrimination'. The discrimination could be gender-biased or it may be pertaining to a certain group of employees.
An employer may prohibit an employee from exhibiting his religious beliefs through his attire. This may lead to a situation of conflict between an employer and an employee.

Right Against Discrimination

Discrimination is a broad term in law, which covers discrimination of all forms. Most of the employee rights are related to the Federal Discrimination Laws in some way. This is a pivotal law which protects the rights of employees if they are subjected to any kind of discrimination.
The law states that an employer cannot discriminate between employees on any grounds such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, color, disability, etc. Sexual harassment in any form also invokes action under a discrimination law. Violation of any of the discrimination laws can land the employer in the court of law.

Employee Privacy Rights in the Workplace

Employers may deploy electronic devices for snooping on the employees, for security purposes. However, deploying such devices without the knowledge of the employees can invoke a legal action against the employer.
Employees have a right to file a suit against the employer if he monitors any of the following without the knowledge of the employees.
  • Computer keystrokes and files.
  • Internet, web, and email usage.
  • Locations, movements, and activities.
  • Phone conversations and numbers dialed.
  • Job performance.

Right to Refuse to Submit to a Drug Test

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 gives the right to the employers to conduct drug test to achieve a drug-free workplace. A drug test is also mandatory for candidates before they are hired.
Although an employee has the right to refuse to submit to a drug test, the end results can be pretty unpleasant. His/her refusal can be treated similar to a negative test result. The employer can simply terminate the employee or reject the job application of a candidate. Hence, it is better to consult an attorney before you refuse a drug test.

Workplace Retaliation

Employment and labor laws prohibit the employers from taking action against the employees for rightfully implementing their rights. In the absence of any specific provision in the Federal Laws for workplace retaliation, public policy or common law can protect employee rights in such a situation.
Employees must be aware of their basic rights in the workplace, and should dutifully fulfill their responsibilities. Similarly, employers should also keep the interest of employees in mind before formulating any policy. Mutual understanding between the employees and employers can reduce the friction at the workplace.
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