What Are Common Employment Laws?

You work hard. You go into your place of employment each day ready to give all that you have to the job. In return, you expect to be treated with dignity and respect. You should receive a salary or wage that is commensurate with your education, skill, and experience. You should receive the same opportunity for promotion and advancement regardless of your race, gender, religion, or national origin. Most companies understand this, and they create and enforce policies that make for a just and unbiased workplace. However, there are companies and people who do not prioritize these values; they allow unfairness, discrimination, and harassment to thrive in their companies. These people think they can get away with the maltreatment of their employees. The law says different, and the attorneys over at West Coast Employment Lawyers are trained to help people protect their rights as citizens and workers.

Common Employment Laws

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin. It is the fundamental anti-discrimination law in the country. It governs and has influenced every state law that has been passed since. This law means that no one can be denied employment, training, promotion, or fair pay based on any of the following:

1. Race
Too many people believe that as long as specific racial slurs are not used or an executive never comes out and says they are making a decision based on race that the person cannot commit a racist act. This is simply not the case. Indeed, not even the most committed bigot would be willing to lose their position by being explicit about their feelings. Instead, such people act in sly, subtle, and understated ways.

They may, for example, deny someone an opportunity for advancement because they are too “ethnic” in the way they wear their hair or speak. Such people may make broad generalizations about a group of people in race neutral language, which can create a hostile and racially tense environment.

2. Religion
People cannot be denied fair treatment because of their religion. This form of discrimination is also expressed subtly and systematically. Companies should make every effort to accommodate the sabbaths and holidays of different religions. However, there is a world of difference in having to do business on a sacred day because of the circumstances of a situation and going out of one’s way to schedule important meetings and events on such days to show disapproval and contempt of another person’s religion.

There has also, in recent years, been a rise in workplace discrimination against non-believers. If you are not a person of any faith and find yourself marginalized or harassed because of it, then you have a case against your employer.

3. Gender
It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee based solely on gender. Although society continues to deal with the structural problems of gender inequality in the workplace, there are certain concrete behaviors that are clearly illegal.

If you have been denied a position for which you are qualified and that may help advance your career because you are woman, then you have a case to make against your employer. You can also take legal action against them if you are being paid less for doing the same job as your male colleagues.

Responding to Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is also against federal and state law. No one should be pressured into having sexual relations of any kind while in the workplace. Although people of both genders suffer from this kind of torment and aggression, the overwhelming number of victims are women. The most important thing to understand about sexual harassment is that it is not about sex; it is about power. The people who do it believe they can get away with it; they think themselves entitled to harm and mistreat people who lack the power to properly defend themselves.

One other thing to note is that sexual harassment does not always come in the form of solicitation—that is, asking for sexual favors. Crude and sexually charged comments and jokes, the posting of calendars, screen savers, and photographs that are sexually suggestive or explicit, or a pattern of inappropriate touching can also constitute sexual harassment. One of the more common instances of the latter is the shoulder massage. This is often foisted upon unsuspected female employees, and then defended as being an innocent and friendly gesture. Any combination of the above actions constitutes a hostile work environment. Having to put up with such behavior can affect your work performance.

If you find yourself in any of the above situations, you should know that the law is on your side. However, you need not take legal action at the start. You should do the following first:

1. Confront the harasser
Many people engage in sexual harassment because they have never been confronted. You may be able to stop the person harassing you by simply telling them to stop. You need not do it in public. In fact, the most effective means of stopping the harassment may be to pull them aside for a word in private. Doing so may make them feel ashamed; it will certainly inform them of the pain and grief they have caused you.

2. Inform your supervisor
If the harassment does not stop, you should report the perpetrator to your supervisor. The latter should follow up on the accusation. You should also read through company policy. In addition to telling your boss, it may be necessary for you to file a report with human resources.

3. Document the incidents
If the harassment continues, you should begin documenting it. You should save all inappropriate emails, text messages, notes, letters, and other written material. You should photograph any inappropriate calendars, drawings, or posters to show that such things were posted in the office. You can then take them down and save them as evidence.

4. File an EEOC report
In the end, you may need to file a report with the government. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles all such complaints. If you have gotten to the point of filing such a report, you should hire an employment lawyer. An employment lawyer will help guide you through the forms you need to submit. They will also keep in touch with the agency as they investigate your complaint.

Filing Suit Against the Company

You will need to file a complaint with the EEOC before you sue your employer. This must be done no matter the specifics of your employment complaint. The EEOC will not represent you in such a case. However, they will send a “right to sue” letter to the attorney who represents you.

If you want to take the matter further, it is important to hire the right attorney for the job. West coast employment lawyers offer a range of services. You will need a Los Angeles wage and hour attorney if your case involves unfair pay. A Los Angeles wage and hour attorney can also help you resolve matters involving overtime. If you have been sexually harassed, then you should work with an attorney who has experience in that field.

You should not put up with discrimination and harassment. Hiring an employment attorney will help you get justice.

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