Employees, sometimes it may feel like your employer has all of the power. It is important to know, however, that the law protects you from things like unfair treatment in the workplace and discrimination. You have rights and knowing those rights is power, in and of itself. When employers fail to comply with applicable employment laws, employees can be harmed as a result and have the right to file suit to enforce their rights as well as get properly compensated for the harm they have sustained. Here, we will take a look at some of the more common reasons why employees end up suing their employers.
Common Reasons Employees Sue employers
Wage and hour claims are actually very common. You see, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides federal protections to most workers regarding the right to be properly paid and fairly compensated for time worked. The standards set forth in the FLSA pertain to things like recordkeeping, overtime pay, and employment of minors. Claims arising from FLSA violations can involve something like an employer unfairly deducting from an employee’s pay without warning. Alternatively, an employee may not be properly compensated for overtime work or receive pay below the federal minimum wage which currently sits at $7.25. Additionally, to remain in compliance with the FLSA, employers must keep records of employee work and pay issuance. There must also be a poster outlining employee rights under the FLSA prominently displayed in the workplace.
Illegal, or “wrongful,” termination is also a common reason for employees to sue their employers. Many workers may be considered to be “at-will,” but this still does not exclude the possibility that an employer terminated the employee illegally. If an employee was terminated without reason, without proper procedures being followed, in retaliation for filing a workplace complaint, or in violation of a verbal or written contract, then there may be a valid wrongful termination claim at play.
Workplace discrimination also is a common reason for employees suing employers. An employee who suffers discrimination in the workplace may pursue legal action against the employer, but will need to prove a number of different elements to be successful in this endeavor. For instance, they must be able to show that they are a member of a protected class and this class membership was the reason that they were being discriminated against.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is another common reason for employee-employer litigation ensuing. Inappropriate behavior and offensive remarks can easily lead to an employee feeling uncomfortable in the workplace. Furthermore, there is the added fear that an employee may feel that their job is threatened as they simultaneously suffer the harassing behavior. To bring suit successfully, the employee will need to show that they made the company’s HR department or another relevant department aware of the inappropriate behavior. They will also need evidence of the harassing behavior.
If an employee suffered retaliatory action due to pursuing legal action against an employer, this can also be grounds for pursuing further legal action against an employer. Retaliation is an adverse work consequence suffered by an employee due to their filing or participating in an action or an investigation of an employer. Such adverse actions may include termination, but may also include unfavorable schedule changes or changes in job duties.
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