A Quick Rundown of Your Rights as a Worker in the United States

It seems hard to believe that there was once a time where workers rights just didn’t exist. Employers had all the power, and there was little that anyone could do about it.

Over time, we’ve seen this change. Workers have more rights than ever before and if anything, there has been a huge power shift. Sure, there will always be lobbying to improve the situation even more, but at least in comparison to where we were a few years ago there has been a monumental change.

Today is just about highlighting some of these changes and we will now take a look at three big areas: safety in the workplace, minimum wage regulations and equal opportunities.

Safety in the workplace

If we turn to OSH law, there is little room for confusion. OSH states in no uncertain terms that “employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace”.

Of course, we can ask what exactly a safe workplace entails. For those of you who want an in-depth summary, we would advise you to turn to osha.gov. However, the main basis of this is making sure that workplaces conform to standards, are free from hazards and do everything possible to reduce the chance of accidents occurring.

There are also reporting requirements that are placed on employers. For example, records have to be kept of all work-related injuries or illnesses, while any fatalities have to be reported within eight hours.

Provisions need to be made in relation to training as well; ensuring that employees receive the appropriate amount as well as being provided with the correct operating procedures.

Minimum wage regulations

In a country as large as the US, this next point can get quite complicated.

As you probably know, minimum wage standards do exist in the country, but they are set at various levels. From a federal perspective, it currently sits at $7.25 per hour. However, most states have their own rules on top of this.

For example, let’s take Arizona. The basic minimum rate per hour is currently set as $12, which is significantly higher than the federal. Arizona isn’t the only state that offers higher rates either, over half of states actually do this.

By the same token, there are some that offer less than the federal rate. It’s at this point in which the federal minimum wage obviously kicks in, although any employment which isn’t covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act can fall into these lower sums.

Equal opportunities

As we all know, the whole country has experienced a huge turnaround when it comes to equal opportunities over the last few decades.

All of this is a welcome change and thankfully, it has also been applied to employment law as well. The statistics are speaking for themselves as well; back in 1992 there were 72,302 charges related to equal employment opportunities. Now, this figure is 72,675, but with a much higher number of workers.

So, what could prompt an equal opportunities breach? It could be based on a number of forms of discrimination involving race, sex, color, age or even religion. It might for example involve choosing just a handful of employees to go on a team building activity – when it is clear that this group has been chosen based on one of the above factors.

In short, there’s no space for any form of discrimination and regulations thankfully protect employees. The process for making a claim has been made particularly easy, and this means that everyone should feel as though they hold at least some protection.

References

Today’s post used the following sources:

  1. https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker/employer-responsibility.html
  2. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/minimum-wage/state
  3. https://www.yourlawyer.com/library/us-equal-employment-opportunity-commission/
  4. https://wildlydifferent.com/team-building-orlando/customized-events/

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