Employee Rights in the Workplace

Any list of employee rights is likely to be incomplete. No one source lists employee rights just as we have as citizens of our country.

However, legislation and case law, as well as certain key documents such as the constitution, provide a framework to use in listing employee rights. There are different types of such employee rights; for our purposes, we will look at the following seven rights:

Employee rights

  1. Privacy: The right to privacy means those employees are free to work without undue interference from their employer and that employee records are protected from examination unless a legitimate interest exists. Monitoring employee behavior without invading an employee’s right to privacy can raise some sensitive issues.
  2. Fair Treatment: The second right we examine is the right to fair treatment by employers. By fair treatment, we mean freedom from arbitrary and capricious behavior on the part of the employer. It means that individual employees will not be singled out for discipline when others also deserve it and that overt favoritism on the part of the employer will be minimized. It also means that in the absence of mitigating circumstances,  precedence will be  followed  by  the  employer.  Fair treatment has been cited as the most serious ethical problem human resource managers must deal with.
  3. Safe and healthful workplace from sexual harassment: Every worker wants to work safely and in a healthy workplace specialty women workers are afraid of sexual harassment. There are many laws protecting employee rights.
  4. Hostile Environment: Another right of employees is hostility free environment. The employer will not make the environment hostile.

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    Employee Rights in the Workplace

  5. Collective Bargaining: Employees have the right to form or to join unions to bargain collectively with their employers with regard to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. State law protects this right. By bargaining collectively, employees increase their power relative to their employer. This increased power enables them to secure those aspects desired in an employment relationship, such as higher wages and improved hours, working conditions, and terms and conditions of employment.
  6. Communication and involvement in the organization: Employees have the right to be informed about. all aspects  of, their jobs  and their employment. They also have the right to be fully involved in their employing organization. In some countries, employers who communicate with and involve their employees through quality circles, suggestion programs, and consensus decision-making commonly adhere to this right.
  7. Notice of plant closing and of disciplinary action: State law requires that employers provide notice to employees of planned plant or facilities closings. The law basically requires that all firms employing full time workers give advance notice of any plans to close plants of lay off workers. Firms are required to notify their employees under the law if a plant closing results in the loss of jobs. Notice is required in mass layoff situations if the firm lays off more than 500 people for more than six months or if it lays off 50 workers that constitute more than 33 percent of its workforce. Firms that employ fewer than 100 people are exempt from the law.
  8. Due process: The final right we examine here is the right to due process. I Due process refers to employees’ right to tell their side of the story and to have all facts considered in an impartial manner when charged with a rule violation. In most cases, this means the right to file a grievance and have it heard. In a unionized organization, this right is protected by the labor agreement and the grievance process is usually spelled out in the contract. Even in a nonunion organization, a grievance process is often spelled out. A typical grievance starts with the immediate supervisor and ends with arbitration, which is a binding ruling by an outside neutral third party. This process allows both the employee and the employer to state their cases- to have “their day in court,” so to speak. Of course, if arbitration is not present in a grievance process, an employee can sue an employer for damages. This due process procedure is usually more time consuming and costly than a grievance and arbitration.

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