Employee rights arise from federal and state laws that, over time, have established various rules that govern the employer-employee relationship.
More broadly viewed, the phrase is often used to refer to rights not explicitly mentioned in law but inferred from legal protections.
Employee rights fall under the following categories:
- Union activity
- Working hours and minimum pay
- Equal compensation for men and women doing the same or similar work for the same employer
- Safety and health protection in the work environment and related workers’ compensation
- Unemployment benefits
- Nondiscriminatory hiring and promotion practices
- The Family & Medical Leave Act
- The ability to complain without retaliation (whistle-blower protection).
Additional rights are guaranteed under state laws, but these vary.
What does Qui Tam mean?
The term “Qui Tam” is latin and refers to lawsuits filed by private citizens on behalf of the government.
What is a Qui Tam lawsuit?
Qui tam cases are cases brought by private citizens who are suing on behalf of the federal government charging fraud against government contractors and/or others who receive government funds. Qui tam actions serve an important function in the government’s effort to stop fraud. Private citizens are more likely to spot possible fraud in their workplace. The federal government, as big as it is, cannot possibly hope to infiltrate every place where fraud might occur.
What is my employer’s liability for violating the law?
Your employer, if found liable, may have to pay back triple the amount of money owed to the government (also known as treble damages) plus penalties for each false claim. You, as the false claim plaintiff, would receive a percentage of the recovery as a reward for coming forward.
What laws protect me from discrimination in my place of employment?
- Title VII
Prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. This law applies to public sector employers, as well as private sector employers who employ at least 15 employees (those with fewer than 15 are usually covered by state law). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII.
- The Family Medical Leave Act
Requires employers to grant employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (within a 12 month period) for a) the birth of a child, b) the adoption of a child, c) a serious health condition that requires a leave of absence, or d) the care of a parent, spouse or child with a serious health condition.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Prohibits discrimination based on age. Age is defined to be 40 years or older, so this law does not prohibit discrimination against those younger than 40. This law applies to public sector employers, and private sector employers with more than 20 employees. However, those under 40 years of age, or who work for smaller employers often are protected by state law.
- Americans with Disabilities Act
Prohibits discrimination based on physical or mental disability. This law applies to public sector employers, and private sector employers with more than 15 employees. Some states have laws that are more stringent.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act
Establishes minimum wage and overtime rates. Regulates the employment of children. This law applies to hospitals, educational institutions, public sector, and private sector employers with at least 2 employees engaged in interstate commerce and a business volume of over $500,000/year.
- The Immigration Reform & Control Act
Prohibits employers from hiring illegal aliens, but also prohibits employers from discrimination based on the citizenship status of aliens who have been lawfully admitted to the US.
- The Employee Polygraph Protection Act
Prohibits employers from requiring employees or prospective employees to take a polygraph (lie detector) test.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act
States that employers and prospective employers cannot discriminate based on pregnancy or childbirth related medical conditions.