All United States workers are legally entitled to certain rights in the workplace. Both federal and state law provide and enforce these rights. Unfortunately, not all employers follow these laws. They may refuse to pay employees for the work they’ve performed, unlawfully discriminate against an employee, or even retaliate when employees report unfair or unsafe work practices.
But federal and state law also provides workers with a way to hold employers accountable and exercise their rights to fair pay and fair treatment. A successful employment lawsuit will recover unpaid wages for wronged employees and/or reach other resolutions to correct any unlawful practices by employers. If you believe your employer violated your rights, call an employee rights lawyer in Charlotte, NC at Gibbons Law Group to discuss your legal options: 704-612-0038.
Understanding Your Employment Rights
Right to Fair Wages for Work Performed
All employees are entitled to a fair wage for the work that they do. The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, equal pay for men and women, and other wage-related rights for most U.S. workers.
But some employers use all types of tricks to avoid paying workers wages they’ve earned. Most wage and hour violations involve:
- Overtime pay violations, such as misclassifying workers as independent contractors or arguing they are exempt from overtime pay.
- Minimum wage violations, such as not paying tips or commissions appropriately.
- Unpaid wages, such as not paying commissions, vacation pay, bonuses, or even salary and hourly wages.
Right to a Workplace Free From Discrimination
It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or applicants for employment based on a number of factors including:
Discrimination in the workplace comes in a couple of different forms. One way discrimination can occur is when an employer makes a decision affecting the employee based on any of the above factors. These decisions could be regarding the terms and conditions of employment such as:
- Salary received
- Whether to hire an applicant
- Benefits received
- Whether to promote an employee
Right to be Free from Harassment
Employment discrimination can also come in the form of harassment. Federal law prohibits offensive conduct based on the factors listed above that creates a hostile work environment for anyone in the workplace.
Freedom from Retaliation
Federal discrimination laws also protect workers against retaliation. Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee who makes a discrimination or harassment complaint.
Depending on the circumstances, a labor bureau may consider firing, demoting, or disciplining the employee retaliation. This is especially true when an employee is a “whistleblower” (i.e., an employee who exposes something detrimental about a company).
Retaliation can be difficult to prove, which is why hiring an attorney to handle your discrimination case is so important.
Rights Under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA affords eligible employees the right to unpaid leave for family or medical reasons for up to 12 weeks. It covers new parents, employees who take leave to care for a close family member or those who suffer a serious health condition themselves.
Right to Fair Employment or Severance Agreement Contracts
When you sign an employment contract, a severance agreement, or a non-compete agreement, do you know what you are signing? Have you taken the time to review the terms? Do you need a trained legal mind to review it for you?
You have the right to ask a lawyer to review any contract your employer asks you to sign, whether you are joining or departing the company.
What should I do if an employer violated my rights?
If an employer has violated your employee rights, take immediate action. Follow these steps to file your discrimination lawsuit.
Stay Calm, Don’t Quit
It’s tempting to walk out the door if you believe your employer is treating you unfairly. We urge you not to do that. Not only might it destroy any employment-related lawsuit you might have, it prevents you from collecting documentation that you might need for your case.
Document the Problem
Documenting the issue and collecting evidence is in your best interest. Write down as much information as you can about your situation and gather documents to support your side. Any correspondence, witness statements, company policies, and employee handbooks may be beneficial in establishing your case.
Don’t Sign Anything
If your employer is terminating your employment, don’t sign any documents they ask you to sign, even if they insist. These documents might contain language waiving your right to file a lawsuit or limit other rights. Accept the documents and inform your employer that you will review them, but you do not want to sign them at this time.
Seek Attorney Representation and File Suit
Filing a lawsuit for wage and hour violations, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or other violations of your employee rights is difficult. Not only must you follow the correct reporting and filing process, but you must also present convincing evidence to build and ultimately prove your case.
A knowledgeable attorney at Gibbons Leis, PLLC can help you determine if your employer violated your rights and what you can do to remedy the situation. We will interview key witnesses and review all documentation and evidence to build a case against your employer.
What remedies are available in my employment lawsuit?
If your employer violated your rights, there are many possible ways to remedy the situation. Some possible resolutions include:
- Compensatory damages: You may be eligible to recover damages, such as unpaid overtime or other wages, missed opportunities, etc.
- Reinstatement of employment: If your hiring or firing was discrimination-based, the court may force your former employer to rehire you.
- Noneconomic damages: These damages will cover any emotional harm, (e.g., pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.) the discrimination caused
- Punitive damages: The court may award these damages to punish your employer for an especially egregious employee rights violation.
- Liquidated damages: Similar to punitive damages, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a victim may receive liquidated damages instead of compensatory or punitive damages.
Get Help from a Charlotte Employee Rights Attorney
It is essential to protect the rights of all employees. Despite federal and state laws, many Charlotte employees are the victims of discrimination and unfair treatment.
If you believe that your employer discriminated against you or treated you unfairly, you need to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. The sooner you seek help, the more likely it is for your case to have a successful outcome.
Gibbons Leis, PLLC is available to assist you in filing your claim. For more information, please call today: 704-612-0038.