Definition of Employee Rights

By Noel Shankel

Employees have certain rights when it comes to their jobs, including privacy rights and wage rights. However, other rights depend on the type of job the employee has. Under the Civil Rights Act, discrimination in the work place is banned for a variety of reasons. The Americans with Disabilities Act also enables certain rights for disabled workers who are capable of holding a job. Employees have the right to take leave, but may lose their job if the leave lasts for too long.

Purpose

The purpose of employee rights laws is to protect them against unsafe or unfair working conditions, and to provide compensation of wage for family emergencies, as well as time off for personal emergencies. Both federal and state laws have been constructed to protect employee rights. Employees also have the right to a fair wage, fair hours and freedom from discrimination while they hold a job, and during the interview process. Lastly, employees have the right to complain about unsafe working conditions without running the risk of losing their job, otherwise known as whistle-blower protection.

ADA

Disabled workers are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), first introduced into Congress in 1988 and eventually signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George Bush, further defines the rights of disabled employees. The Act mandates that employers cannot discriminate against otherwise qualified people who happen to have a disability during the hiring process, firing process, and all other aspects of the job. Any employee who is considered disabled shares the same rights as any other employee and must be treated as such.

Privacy

Phone calls may be monitored at work under certain circumstances.

Both state and federal laws protect employees when it comes to privacy. While establishments are legally allowed to have cameras on premises to monitor employee conduct, cameras are not allowed in bathrooms or changing areas. Phone calls may be monitored to ensure that they are work related and in some instances, e-mails may be monitored for the same reason; however, employees must be made aware of such policies.

Discrimination

Workers cannot be dicriminated against because of their age.

Employees have the right to not be discriminated against during any part of the hiring process or while they hold the job. Employers are not allowed to discriminate for any reason relating to gender, marital status, age, race, religion or national origin. Such laws are protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Women also have the right to equal pay under the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 mandates that employers cannot discriminate against employees who are over the age of 40.

Limitations

Employers are not required to offer paid meal breaks.

While employees enjoy certain rights protected by both federal and state law, other rights are not a given unless specified by the employer. For example, not every employee has the right to paid vacation days, or paid days off in general. Meal breaks and coffee breaks are provided by some employers, but not all, and often times the breaks are unpaid. Employees do have the legal right to take time off to care for a sick family member; however, limitations do apply in regard to how much time one can take off without losing their job.

About the Author

Based in California, Noel Shankel has been writing and directing since 2002. His work has been published in "Law of Inertia Magazine." Shankel has a Bachelor of Arts in film and writing from San Francisco State University.