Have you ever wondered if your boss is crossing the line with you? You may be surprised to learn that there are many things your boss can’t legally do, and that you have rights as an employee. Here are some of the most common examples of illegal behavior by employers:
- Asking prohibited questions on job applications, such as your age, marital status, religion or pregnancy plans. These questions can lead to discrimination and violate the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws.
- Requiring you to sign broad non-compete agreements that prevent you from working for a competitor for a long time after leaving the company. These agreements can limit your career opportunities and may not be enforceable in some states.
- Forbidding you from discussing your salary with co-workers. This can violate the National Labor Relations Act, which protects your right to engage in collective bargaining and improve your working conditions.
- Not paying you overtime or minimum wage. This can violate the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay at least the federal minimum wage and 1.5 times your regular rate for hours worked over 40 per week.
- Promising a job to an unpaid intern. This can violate the Department of Labor’s guidelines, which state that unpaid internships must be educational and beneficial for the intern, not for the employer.
- Discriminating against workers based on their race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability or age. This can violate various EEOC laws that prohibit workplace harassment and retaliation.
- Allowing you to work off the clock. This can violate the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay you for all hours worked, including time spent on training, meetings or travel.
- Retaliating against whistleblowers who report illegal or unethical activities by the employer. This can violate various laws that protect employees from being fired or demoted for exposing wrongdoing.
- Firing someone after “papering” their personnel file with negative reviews or warnings. This can violate various laws that protect employees from wrongful termination and defamation.
- Classifying you as an independent contractor but treating you like an employee. This can violate various laws that require employers to pay taxes and benefits for employees, such as Social Security and Medicare.
- Disciplining you for complaining about work on social media. This can violate the National Labor Relations Act, which protects your right to express your opinions about work-related issues online.
- Turning a blind eye to a hostile workplace where employees are subjected to sexual harassment, bullying or intimidation. This can violate various laws that require employers to provide a safe and respectful work environment for all employees.
- Ignoring exemptions to vaccination mandates based on medical or religious reasons. This can violate various laws that require employers to accommodate employees’ disabilities or beliefs.
If you think your boss is doing any of these things, you should know that you have legal options. You can speak to an employment lawyer or file a complaint with the relevant agency in your state. You can also join a union or seek support from other workers who share your concerns.
The bottom line is: You deserve respect and dignity at work. Don’t let your boss get away with illegal behavior that harms your well-being and career prospects.
No one is above the law, including your boss. The National Labor Relations Act and a variety of statutes overseen by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission…
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