As a general rule, you have to listen to your boss. You may disagree with business decisions or management directives, but you have limited options unless they are unlawful or impinge on protected employee rights. But there are things your boss can’t legally do — they are not above the law. Workers across Florida and the U.S. should know that they have many employee rights and should be aware of the things that could be happening at work that violate the law.
Workplace rights encompass a wide range of actions. It is important to know that employment laws do not apply to every employee and employer, but they cover millions of workers across varying industries.
WORKPLACE LAWS YOUR EMPLOYER MAY BE VIOLATING
- Refuse or Neglect to Pay You Overtime
You deserve to get paid appropriately for the number of hours you work every week. If you qualify for overtime pay, your paycheck should reflect that. But it is not uncommon for managers or bosses to refuse or neglect to pay you overtime. The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) and state laws provide for minimum wage and overtime pay and cover more than 130 million workers. These laws state that employers must provide their employees with “premium pay” when they work more than 40 hours in one week. Check your time records and your pay stubs.
- “Paper” Your Employee File
Sometimes, when a manager is a bully or decides they just do not like you, they may start “papering” your employee file. That manager may be violating your employee rights. “Papering” is when a person in authority will write a lot of unwarranted negative reviews or extensive documentation when you do anything slightly different from your colleagues to stuff your file — often to justify firing you.
If a bullying boss has unduly targeted you, you may have a case and should consult with an employment law attorney.
- Not Give You a Promotion Because You are Are a Member of a Protected Class
Just as one example, Sex discrimination is prohibited by law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the legislation that protects workers from being treated differently just because of their biological sex. Our state also has workplace rights legislation protecting employees from sex and gender discrimination, known as the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA). An employment and labor law attorney understands the complexity of sex discrimination and can consult with you to determine your best legal options moving forward.
- Create a Hostile Work Environment
A lot of people have had bad bosses. But it crosses a legal line when the work environment becomes hostile. A hostile work environment is defined as one where an individual (or group of individuals) is subject to unwanted sexual advances, discrimination, offensive comments, bullying based on protected status or activity, or other similar actions that create an intimidating and oppressive atmosphere. Additionally, a worker(s) may become fearful and intensely anxious to come into work because of those actions. Under some circumstances, bullying may rise to such a level that an unsafe workplace is created, triggering protection under the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA).
A hostile work environment can be caused by a boss, direct supervisor, vendor or contractor, co-worker, or even a customer. Employee rights laws protecting people from a hostile work environment are specific. Not every hostile act is unlawful. The employee must be part of a protected category or engage in protected activity, such as:
- Sex, Gender, Race, or Age
- Religious Affiliation
- Sexual Harassment
- Retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
- Classify You as a Contractor When You Are an Employee
Bosses will try a lot of different things to save the company money. Another one of the things your boss can’t legally do is misclassify your status. Sometimes, they will classify you as a contractor when you are an employee, so they do not have to pay employment taxes for you — and avoid adhering to most employment laws. But how do you know what kind of worker you are? If your boss controls the manner, time, and place of your work, says you cannot work for anyone else, pays you vacation time, and does evaluations — you are probably an employee.
If you believe you may have been misclassified, consult with an employment law attorney. You may have a case.
- Firing You Because You Reported Illegal Behavior or Unsafe Working Conditions
If you see something illegal or unsafe and report it – then subsequently get fired – your boss could be in deep legal trouble. Whistleblowers are important to keep employers operating legally and safeguard the well-being of themselves, fellow employees, and even the public. They are protected under multiple laws, including the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSH Act), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSC). Florida has adopted strong whistleblower protection acts covering both private and public employers.
Firing is not the only retaliation that whistleblowers can be subject to at the workplace. They may also have been the subject of bullying and harassment, pay reduction, passed up for a promotion, or even forced to quit.
- Pay You Less Than Minimum Wage
Employers must pay a minimum wage to employees or face legal action. As of September 2021, the minimum wage in Florida is $10.00, which is higher than the federal government’s $7.25 minimum wage. If you are a tipped employee, you must be paid a direct wage of at least $6.98, which, in combination with the $3.02 tip credit, would be on par with the $10.00 Florida minimum wage.
- Require You to Work Off the Clock
Certain companies will do unlawful things not to pay overtime and increase their bottom line, including making employees work off the clock. Have you been asked to do training when you are not on the schedule? Has your boss told you to organize and clean your work area after you have punched out? These tasks, as well as others including research, paperwork, or being made to wait in the break room until a new assignment/task begins, all while not being paid, violate employment law.
CONTACT AN EMPLOYMENT & LABOR LAW ATTORNEY IN FLORIDA
If you have been subject to one of these eight things your boss can’t do, Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., is here for you. We have expert, experienced employment and labor law attorneys who fight hard for employee rights. They help with these types of employment law violations and much more. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.