Thursday, September 27, 2007

When your boss crosses the line

Unite Against Employment Abuses by Employers

How do you know your employer is taking advantage or abusing you?

A great business philosopher once said that “a young man's most profitable investment is to give his best to his employer.” However, this philosophy only holds true if its reverse is also true. That is, every employer’s profitable investment lies in how decent he treats his employees.

Employer and employees must work together in order to achieve their goals. While the employment law provides ample protection for both employer and employee against violations and abuses, the labor laws slightly tilt in favor of the employees in the rank-and-file status.

Employer abuse and violations of the law is a common grievance among the workers. It is not always easy to identify if a certain act or omission constitutes an actionable wrong. The most common and popular issues in the workplace are wage and work-hour claims, workplace safety, discrimination, sexual harassment, misclassification and unpaid overtime.

Employer-employee disputes are always unpleasant affairs. Employers always have an advantage against their employees. This is why the Labor laws have definite provisions to protect the rights of workers against abusive management of their employers.

The California Labor Code contains provisions that when breached by an employer, is considered serious. Here are some of the common provisions being violated by employers in California:

o The minimum wage must be strictly observed.

o The law requires overtime after 8 hours a day or a total of 40 hours in a week.

o Meal periods must be provided. According to related laws, an employer cannot make an employee work for more than five hours without a meal break of even less than 30 minutes. An employee found to be without this privilege is entitled to recover extra pay from the employer.

o Tips given to employees must be paid to them.

o Reimbursement of all the necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee directly related to the discharge of legitimate duties.

o Printing all required information in the paycheck stub of an employee.

Also, under the California Labor Code, here are some of the things an employer cannot do:

o Require employees to join or not join a union.

o Retaliate against an employee for lawful conduct outside of work or for filing a labor complaint.

o Knowingly make false statements to convince a person to relocate for work.

o Require employees to undergo a polygraph (lie detector) test, or to sign a statement known to be prohibited by law, or inquire about arrests that did not result in convictions.

o Require a fee to process application for employment.

Most of the time, employees are unaware of their rights against abusive misdemeanors, subtle or obvious, committed by their employers. Even when they realize that they have been wronged by their bosses, still the employees do not have an idea on how to assert their right against such abuses.

It is also advisable to consult an labor or employment lawyer. Sometimes the situation is so complicated that solving it on your own might prove more harmful.

Sometimes, forming a union that will look after rights of the workers is a good idea. It organizes the sentiments of the whole workforce and let the management feel the objections.

The most important part of this exercise is for employees to know their rights against abuses by the employer. It is not always safe to stay in the sidelines while the boss tramples on your rights. Playing an active role in the workplace for the advancement of your rights is just as important as getting the job done.