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Hodges & Foty, LLP > Legal Advice  > Learn 5 Essential Employee Rights and How to Protect Them

Learn 5 Essential Employee Rights and How to Protect Them

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Beginning in 1913, the U.S. Government began to protect the rights of hard-working Americans. While a lot has changed since then, employees having rights hasn’t.

Knowing your rights as an employee ensures you receive fair treatment at work. Chances are, you have more rights than you might think. But what are they? Hodges & Foty is here to help you answer this critical question.

Here’s a closer look at five common employee rights in the workplace and what they entail. You’ll also learn what to do if an employer violates your rights.


Sometimes, people with disabilities may require slight changes to a company’s usual processes. These changes are otherwise called reasonable accommodations.

But what separates a reasonable from an unreasonable accommodation? The definition of what is or isn’t reasonable can vary based on an employee’s position, environment, and the degree to which a disability affects this person’s ability to perform their job duties.

Generally, the following examples are all reasonable accommodations:

  • Changing a person’s specific daily tasks
  • Providing reserved parking spaces for disabled employees only
  • Adjusting workplace equipment, tools, software, etc.
  • Making a workplace more accessible
  • Offering a flexible work schedule


Discrimination remains an issue in workplaces worldwide. An act of discrimination happens when someone receives unfair treatment based on one or several categories. Employee discrimination can occur based on someone’s:

  • Race
  • Religious beliefs
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Age
  • National origin


employee rights in the workplace for safety gear

As an employee, you also have the right to work in a safe workplace. Whether you work on a construction site or in an office, it’s your employer’s legal obligation to create a safe working environment.

Understandably, a worker spilling their drink and immediately cleaning it up wouldn’t constitute an unsafe working environment. Instead, these employee rights violations involve an employer knowing or receiving reports of safety issues and not fixing them.

Unsafe workplaces can lead to employee injuries and even death. According to the most recent data from OSHA, 4,764 workplace deaths happened in 2020. If an employer isn’t taking care of safety issues, you have the right to contact an employment law attorney to discuss your situation.


Similar to discrimination is harassment. While harassment deals with unjust treatment, harassment involves unwelcome conduct. Unfortunately, harassment can take place in many ways.

Sexual harassment can occur when one employee makes unwanted advances on another worker, including inappropriate touching. This type of harassment also happens when someone says inappropriate things to another employee.

However, sexual harassment isn’t the only type of harassing behavior. Harassment violating employee rights can involve:

  • Making jokes or using slurs about another person’s appearance, beliefs, etc.
  • Offensive images or texts posted or otherwise circulated in a workplace
  • Intimidating behavior towards another person, sometimes involving verbal and/or physical threats

Employee rights in the workplace not only protect the harassment victim, but also anyone who witnesses harassing behavior.


A person counting U.S. dollar bills

Regardless of what employers would like to believe, most people arrive at their jobs to earn a living. You would hope every employer pays their employees fairly. As you might imagine, that’s not always the case. Wage violations can happen to any employee, whether they earn hourly, salary, or overtime pay.

  • Wage violations can occur when an employer intentionally or unintentionally miscalculates:
  • Regular pay
  • Overtime pay
  • Vacation pay
  • Paid time off
  • Sick time
  • Commission-based payments
  • Termination pay

Another common pay-related issue some employees endure involves a lack of fair pay. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 went into effect to ensure that employees receive equal pay regardless of their gender.

An example of an equal pay violation is a business hiring one male and one female, but paying the male more than the female or vice-versa.


No employee should face harassment, discrimination, or other employee rights violations. If an employer violated your rights as an employee, contact the Board Certified attorneys at Hodges & Foty.

Hodges & Foty have a combined 50 years of experience serving hard-working employees throughout the United States. We’ve helped employees recover over $100 million in settlements and verdicts. If you have a claim to make against your employer, contact us today to get a free case evaluation.

David Hodges

David W. Hodges is an attorney at Hodges & Foty who specializes in a wide array of cases from class action wage and hour litigation to personal injury. He is Board-Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has practiced law for more than 26 years. He has been recognized as a top 100 lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and he is often interviewed by the media to give legal insight on various issues facing everyday Americans. As an advocate for victims, David has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of his clients.

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