The history of civilization is filled with brutal work conditions and environments. Activists, philosophers, politicians, and business owners have fought hard to create laws that ensure that workers are working in suitable environments. Aside from the moral perspective of workplace rights, businesses are expected by governments to provide fair treatment to their employees. Fortunately, there is no shortage of guidance which helps employers become very familiar with workplace rights and the importance of proper treatment of their employees.
When employees are faced with unprofessional behavior or illegal discrimination, they have the right to fight back. According to the professional attorneys at ECLaw.com, the decision to file a claim can be intimidating at first, but it’s good to know that the Department of Labor provides workers with about 180 laws that protect them from unfair and toxic workplace environments. There is a lot a person can do if they just reach out to the right people.
We’ve collected the best 5 legal tips that will help you ensure that your workplace environment is suitable for workers, whether you’re an employee or employer.
1. Become Familiar with the Laws
The employer needs to understand the mechanics behind the most important laws that protect their employees. The Fair Labor Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act are two of the most famous and important workplace laws. The first act essentially ensures that all employers at least adhere to the federal minimum wage standards across the states. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that employees with disabilities are offered the accommodations required to assist them while doing their jobs.
2. Get the Management Onboard
Even if you’re at the top of the hierarchy of the business you own, your management team should share the same values and approach to workplace rights if you want it done right. It’s important to educate your executives about federal and state laws concerning your employees’ rights. It’s easy to provide training and consultations to your management team to help get them in the loop as soon as possible. If you have an HR team, they should be able to handle any questions regarding workplace rights and other work-related issues.
3. Stay Safe
The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970 and it has significantly improved workplace rights for most employees. The safety provisions are standardized, but many industries have their own guidelines that apply to their line of work. The General Duty Clause included in the act strictly prohibits actions that indicate a direct risk to the employees. The act covers a broad range of employees, but self-employed workers and family farms are usually not protected by the act.
If you’re an employee, make sure to notify your employer of any hazardous or dangerous obstacles that may negatively impact you. You have the right to refuse any kind of work that represents a clear danger to your health. As long as you can prove that the conditions are dangerous, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be able to protect you.
4. Educate Your Workers
Many workers may not know the full extent of the benefits provided by workplace rights, making it your duty to educate them on such important matters. Small businesses are required by law to hang posters that provide information to workers about their workplace rights and their relation to other laws. Creating the posters isn’t hard since the Department of Labor’s website includes many posters that can help small business owners determine the importance and context of each poster they use.
5. Keeping Records
No matter how great an employer is at preserving workplace rights, employees should always be careful when it comes to maintaining their legal rights. If you’re an employee and happen to find yourself in the middle of a problem, try your best to keep as many copies of anything related to the issue as possible. You can use a paper or electronic pad to keep tabs on important conversations, as you may need them later should a legal problem arise. Any relevant documents such as emails, letters, policy papers, contracts, and others can prove very valuable in the event of a lawsuit.
Make sure that the documents you are keeping in your possession are obtained legally. If you don’t have access to certain documents, then refrain from using them, as they are considered confidential and won’t be useful in a legal battle. Many workplace discrimination claims have been denied because of documents that were obtained illegally.
Staying up to date with workplace rights is mutually beneficial to both employees and employers. Workers have a right to be safe and treated with respect in any workplace environment. Never be afraid to take legal action if your employer fails to accommodate any of your legal rights.