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Employee Rights

Employee rights are the legal protections provided to employees of businesses. There are four basic categories of employee rights; labor rights, work/pay rights, workplace safety rights and worker compensation rights. Human resources cover many employee rights regarding employee privacy, promotional policies, drug testing, employee personnel records and employee performance. To learn more about employee rights, take a look at the questions below that have been answered by experts.

I have been a Resident Mgr at a student housing complex in Minnesota for 2+ years and recently found a new job. My boss is telling me that I am obligated to stay until he finds a replacement. Is this legal?

For the majority of the states, employees are "employees at will". This means that at any time, an employer can terminate an employee without cause. However, this also means that an employee can quit at any time. The only way this would be an issue is if there is a contract involved with specific language about quitting or terminating the employment. In many cases, a contract is in writing but oral contracts are also binding.

Minnesota is an "at will" state, which means the state recognizes "at will" employment. So without an oral or written contract that states otherwise, you should be allowed to leave your job without any repercussions. You may want to contact the State of Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and read the labor standards of the state.

What are my employee rights in regards to wanting my personal information, such as my birth date, to be kept confidential within the Human Resources department?

Many employees tend to misunderstand the concept of privacy rights and what those rights may be. Constitutional law is the right to privacy regarding marital choices, child rearing choices, in home decisions, etc. Aside from the constitutional law, there are two federal laws; HIPPA, which refers to privacy of medical information and Gramm Leach Blibley which refers to privacy of financial information and how financial institutions use that information. However, state laws cover regulations about private information such as date of birth, social security numbers, addresses, names, etc. It doesn't appear that MO. has such laws governing this information.

Usually, an employer may determine its own regulations as to how private information is handled if there aren't specific laws of the state that govern how the private information is to be handled. Missouri department of labor doesn't have any employee privacy regulations or laws listed, however, laws change on a regular basis. You can contact the Missouri Department of labor and ask someone about specific laws that engage right to privacy and employee rights regarding private information.

My sister in law worked at a company in Virginia for 10 years without incident. She had a meeting with her boss and he continually cursed her. She asked him three times to not curse her. That night, she received a phone call and was fired for disrespecting her superior. Does she have any employee rights?

Your sister in law needs to go to a superior who is above her boss. This will give her an opportunity to tell the supervisor what transpired and why she is being accused of disrespecting her boss. The upper management may be interested to hear what really happened. However, without being part of a Union or having a contract, your sister in law is considered an "at will" employee. This means the supervisor can fire her at any time for any reason as long as the termination wasn't based on discrimination.

Your sister in law needs to do is look at the employee hand book or the company's SOP (standard operating procedures). It doesn't sound like her supervisor was following a standard disciplinary procedure. Your sister in law may not be able to sue the company; however unemployment benefits will probably be awarded to her.

What is my employee rights regarding sitting at my desk for two days waiting for equipment to arrive and my company not paying me for this time? I work in Florida.

You need to contact the Florida office of the U.S. Department of labor in regards to your wages. There is a fact sheet #22 on the Department of Labor website that could help you determine whether you should receive payment for the hours at work. One portion that would be particularly helpful as stated on the DOL website is here:

"Waiting Time: Whether waiting time is hours worked under the Act depends upon the particular circumstances. Generally, the facts may show that the employee was engaged to wait (which is work time) or the facts may show that the employee was waiting to be engaged (which is not work time). For example, a secretary who reads a book while waiting for dictation or a fireman who plays checkers while waiting for an alarm is working during such periods of inactivity. These employees have been "engaged to wait."

Employees have few rights when they enter into an "at will" employment. However, there are situations that occur that provide employees certain rights. If you have questions about employee rights, you need to ask an Expert for legal insight.
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