Employee Rights Law encompasses the various rights that have arisen over time which employees are legally entitled to in the workplace, such as: limits on drug testing; freedom from discrimination when an employee is part of a protected class; rights related to wage and hour law; the rights of workers to return to their former jobs after serving in the military; taking unpaid leave for births or adoptions, or serious health conditions the employee or his/her immediate family member is dealing with; the right to unionize; freedom from disciplinary action or termination for serving on a jury; right of advance notice of plant closings or mass layoffs; health and safety rights in the workplace; rights of disabled workers; privacy in the workplace; workers’ compensation; unemployment benefits; and much more. This very broad legal area falls primarily under the large practice area of employment law.
These employee rights have been addressed on the federal and state levels and by various regulatory bodies, as well as via employee handbooks/manuals and collective bargaining agreements. Not all employees have the same rights. For example, private employees don’t have all the same constitutional rights that public employees, who work for the government, do. There are many regulatory bodies that administer and oversee employee rights laws.
Human resources law deals with many employee rights which are inherent in the hiring, firing, disciplining and training process for company personnel.
To consult employment laws in your state, visit our Department of Labor by State page.
Know Your Rights!
Employee Rights Law - US
- ABA - Section of Labor and Employment Law
The Section of Labor and Employment Law is your link to information that matters to you. Our 22,000+ members represent all perspectives of labor and employment law: employer, union, employee, public, and neutral. All are committed to a balanced discussion of employment issues in the United States and abroad.
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
This law covers the rights of the disabled.
- Civil Rights Act of 1991
On November 21, 1991, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Congress acted to address a series at least seven decisions by the Supreme Court, some of which were regarded as changing the well-established landscape of discrimination law, and calling into doubt existing precedent.
- Employee Privacy Rights
Workers of the world are exposed to many types of privacy-invasive monitoring while earning a living. These include drug testing, closed-circuit video monitoring, Internet monitoring and filtering, E-mail monitoring, instant message monitoring, phone monitoring, location monitoring, personality and psychological testing, and keystroke logging. Employers do have an interest in monitoring in order to address security risks, sexual harassment, and to ensure the acceptable performance of employees. However, these activities may diminish employee morale and dignity, and increase worker stress.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
- Equal Pay Act (EPA)
The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Job content (not job titles) determines whether jobs are substantially equal. All forms of pay are covered by this law, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits.
- Executive Order - Employee Rights under Federal Labor Law
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, 40 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and in order to ensure the economical and efficient administration and completion of Government contracts, it is hereby ordered that:
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.
- Federal Unemployment Tax Act
This law covers unemployment compensation.
- National Labor Relations Act (NLRB)
Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.
- Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act
This law relates primarily to hourly workers and minimum pay.
- OSHA - Employee Workplace Rights
This informational booklet provides a general overview of a particular topic related to OSHA standards. It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, you should consult current OSHA administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the Courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
This law amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
- State Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Plans
Section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act) encourages States to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs. OSHA approves and monitors State plans.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
Age discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) less favorably because of his/her age. The ADEA only forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states do have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination. It is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older. Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are both over 40.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA, 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301 – 4335) is a federal law intended to ensure that persons who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or other “uniformed services:” (1) are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service; (2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty; and (3) are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service. The federal government is to be a “model employer” under USERRA. See 38 U.S.C. § 4301.
- Whistleblower Protection Act
This Act amended title 5, United States Code, to strengthen the protections available to Federal employees against prohibited personnel practices, and for other purposes.
- Young Workers Rights
This site provides safety and health information for young workers and others. It answers questions often asked by the working teen. Details about workers' rights and links to training and other educational tools may also be found here. You can look over your State's youth employment laws.
Organizations Related to Employee Rights Law
- Farmworker Justice
Farmworker Justice is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety, and access to justice. Using a multi-faceted approach, Farmworker Justice engages in litigation, administrative and legislative advocacy, training and technical assistance, coalition-building, public education and support for union organizing.
- Global Workers Justice Alliance
The mission of the Global Workers Justice Alliance is to combat worker exploitation by promoting portable justice for transnational migrants through a cross-border network of worker advocates and resources.
- Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ)
Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) is a network of people of faith that calls upon our religious values in order to educate, organize, and mobilize the religious community in the United States on issues and campaigns that will improve wages, benefits, and conditions for workers, and give voice to workers, especially workers in low-wage jobs.
- National Day Laborer Organizing Network
NDLON improves the lives of day laborers in the United States. To this end, NDLON works to unify and strengthens is member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize, and organize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights. NDLON fosters safer more humane environments for day laborer, both men and women, to earn a living, contribute to society, and integrate into the community.
- National Employment Law Project - Enforcement of Workplace Standards
Across the country, growing numbers of employers routinely violate our nation's core workplace standards by not paying the minimum wage or overtime, calling workers "independent contractors" to deny them basic protections, and providing unsafe working conditions. These practices are driving down standards throughout the labor market, putting employers who play by the rules at an unfair disadvantage. At the same time, workers' ability to respond is often constrained - by outdated government enforcement systems, fear of retaliation for speaking up, and lack of immigration status.
- National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)
NELA is dedicated to promoting the interests of individual employees and assisting the lawyers who represent them. NELA encourages the professional advancement of its members through publications, technical support, and educational programs. Exclusive membership benefits include access to NELANet, our website and members-only conferences, as well as online directory, on demand continuing legal education and other member services. Our quarterly magazine, The Employee Advocate, features recent developments in the law, updates on legislative activities, member victories, practice tips, and articles of interest to the plaintiff employment practitioner.
- Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS)
The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) of the U.S. Department of Labor administers and enforces most provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The LMRDA primarily promotes union democracy and financial integrity in private sector labor unions through standards for union officer elections and union trusteeships and safeguards for union assets.
- United States Department of Labor
Our Mission: To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
- Workers' Rights Law Center
There are several components to the WRLC's work. First, the Center's staff provides free legal services to low-wage workers struggling to enforce their rights in the workplace. Second, the Center contributes to the empowerment of workers by educating workers about their labor and civil rights. Third, the WRLC works with local and national organizations to advocate for reform on behalf of low-wage workers.
- Workplace Fairness
Workplace Fairness is a non-profit organization that provides information, education, and assistance to individual workers and their advocates nationwide and promotes public policies that advance employee rights. Our goals are that workers and their advocates are educated about workplace rights and options for resolving workplace problems and that policymakers, members of the business community, and the public at large view the fair treatment of workers as both good business practice and sound public policy.
Publications Related to Employee Rights Law
- DOL - Employment Law Guide
This Guide describes the major statutes and regulations administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that affect businesses and workers. The Guide is designed mainly for those needing "hands-on" information to develop wage, benefit, safety and health, and nondiscrimination policies for businesses.
- National Wage and Hour Clearinghouse
The National Wage and Hour Clearinghouse was created to support and promote the efforts of unions, community groups, worker centers, legal services advocates, private plaintiffs' attorneys and others who are working to make headway against wage theft and the erosion of the minimum wage floor and right to overtime pay.