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Top 5 Tips for Protecting Your Rights in the Workplace

Federal and state law protects employees in the workplace in several ways. Employees generally have the right to be free from harassment, discrimination or retaliation. Employees should be diligent in order to benefit from the legal remedies that are available when their rights are violated by keeping the following guidelines in mind:

  • Be a good worker
  • It can be difficult to vindicate your workplace rights if you are not a good worker. Being rude, consistently late or otherwise non-productive can give an employer an opening to argue that they had a legitimate business reason for taking the adverse employment action that caused your termination or suspension. To protect your legal rights in the workplace, it is important to be a polite, diligent and productive employee.
  • Report allegations of misconduct in writing
  • Most retaliation claims generally arise when an employee complains about misconduct by a supervisor in the workplace. In most cases, the law requires such complaints to be made in writing before an employee can benefit as a protected whistleblower. A verbal report to a supervisor may be insufficient. If the misconduct involves potential criminal activity, the law usually requires the employee to file a report with an external agency, for example, the state attorney general's office or the police.
  • Keep good records away from company property
  • It is important to document important activities in the workplace; and to keep notes of such activities separate from your work-issued laptop or computer. You should document your accomplishments at work and maintain a copy of your performance evaluation. Maintaining good records can help not only with severance negotiations, but also with litigation, in case it becomes necessary for you to assert your claims in court.
  • Use Social Media Responsibly
  • Social media has become a part of modern life. You should use it responsibly and treat it as an extension of your professional brand. If a dispute arises between you and an employer that requires you to assert your rights, your social media activity can dilute any claims that you may have.
  • Think Before You Sign
  • As a general rule, you should not sign any papers offered by your employer during the course of your employment without at least reading and understanding the content of the papers, particularly when it involves policy changes, changes in your duties or role. In some cases, these papers may often times but not always dilute or otherwise limit your rights. Sometimes it might be worth it to discuss such papers with an attorney before taking any action.