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What Are Employee Rights?

Employee rights generally include those rights that employers are obligated to grant to employees. State and federal employment laws outline many different rights that employees obtain once they are legally hired by their employer. 

Employee rights typically begin to be enforceable once the worker begins their employment or signs their employment contract. They are terminated once the employer-employee relationship ends. Some employee rights can actually be enforceable before or after employment (for instance, for rights regarding hiring or retirement).

What Are Some Typical Examples of Employee Rights?

Some examples of employee rights can include:

  • Rights to be paid minimum wage
  • The right to be free from discrimination at all stages of the employment process
  • Rights to privacy in the workplace (the scope of privacy rights may depend on the nature of the employment)
  • Various rights regarding leave for disability, medical, or family leave

In addition to these rights, individual employees can also obtain contract rights that are specific to the terms in their employment contract. For instance, some employment contracts may include a statement that the employee will not be terminated before a certain date.  Employment contract terms will depend on each individual employment arrangement.

What If Employee Rights Have Been Violated?

Violations of employee rights can occur in many different ways. One of the more common disputes is where an employer violates the employee’s rights regarding workplace privacy. Another example is where the employer fails to pay the employee overtime wages in accordance with the overtime standards in the area.

If a violation of employee rights has occurred, the employee should begin to create documentation for the incident. They may wish to compile evidence such as pay stubs, employer statements, and other information. They can file a claim with the company human resources department, or with an agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

In serious cases, the employer can file a private lawsuit after a government investigation has not properly addressed the situation. Remedies may depend on the violation; for instance, a violation of wage rights may result in a damages award to the worker to compensate them for lost wages. See also our article on Employee Rights for Drug Testing

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Employee Rights?

Employee rights are an important part of every work arrangement.  State laws may vary when it comes to the specific detail of certain employee rights. You may need to hire a lawyer in your area if you need assistance with any legal issues involving employee rights.  Your attorney can assist you in filing a claim, in order to help you obtain the legal remedies that are needed in your situation.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 12-21-2015 10:50 AM PST

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