Regardless of whether you are an at-will employee or have signed an employment contract, you are protected by both state and federal employment laws. These laws set the guidelines for safety and health standards, dictate wage and hour regulations, and establish the benefits to which employees are entitled by law. 

Some of the benefits that your employer must provide for you are:

How Am I Protected as an Employee?

Employees are afforded all of the protections included in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well any protections listed in the labor code of the state in which they work. Even if you are interning for an employer, you should get some protection.

Wage & Hour Protection
Employers currently must pay all employees a wage that is no less than $7.25 an hour. Employers must pay all employees this wage for all hours worked and cannot take an average or pay you less than the minimum wage for some hours worked and more for others.

Overtime Protection
The FLSA does not limit the hours that an employee can work in a week unless the employee is a minor. However, if an employee works more than 40 hours a week, the employee must be paid at least one and one half times his or her regular rate of pay for every hour that exceeds 40 hours. In addition to the FLSA laws, states also have their own laws regarding overtime pay.

Job Security
Employees usually either have a contract with their employers or their employment is at will. An at will employee can be fired for any reason that is not discriminatory (race, age, sex, or another protected right) If there is no contract regarding when the employee can be fired, a employer can fire an employee for anything job related such as poor performance, violation of company policy, absences.

Discrimination Protection
Employment laws also seek to protect employees from discrimination or harassment in the workplace, and forbid your employer from retaliating against you if you engage in  whistleblowing. An employer cannot terminate an employee or not hire a potential employee based on discriminatory factors such as race, age, religion, and gender.

Should I Contact an Attorney About My Employment Issue?

If you believe that you are an employee, but your employer considers you an independent contractor, you may be getting cheated out of a number of benefits. An employment attorney can help you in making sure that your employment status is correct and that you are receiving the protection you are entitled to. An attorney with employment litigation experience can also represent you should you wish to take legal action against your employer for a violation of state or federal employment laws. He or she can help preserve your rights seek the remedies available to you.