Having a job is important to you. You, like many other Oregon workers, likely need your job to generate the income you use to purchase your necessities and keep up with your lifestyle. Because your job is so important to you, you may have let certain questionable actions in the workplace slide by in efforts to avoid causing problems or putting your job at risk.
Many workers across the country are in the same boat as you. They fear that they will experience retaliation or other mistreatment for speaking up about actions that they feel are wrong. Similarly, some workers may not even realize that the way their employers treat them is illegal.
When are employer actions illegal?
Unfortunately, employers can commit employment violations in a number of ways. If you do not have a thorough working knowledge of employment law (and not many people do), it is possible that your employer could take advantage of you and your co-workers. Some violations you may want to remain conscious of include the following:
- Unpaid compensable time: Your employer should compensate you for the time you put into your work, which includes working on your lunch break, cleaning your work area, putting on your uniform or putting on necessary equipment. If your employer does not pay you for this time, he or she may have violated the law.
- Misclassification of employees: In efforts to avoid paying overtime, your employer may classify you as an exempt employee, which means that you do not receive extra pay for overtime hours. Misclassification is against the law, and you need to understand your employment status as an exempt or nonexempt worker.
- Minimum wage violation: Minimum wage standards are set by federal and state law. In Oregon, the minimum wage your employer must pay you for hourly work is $11.25 per hour.
- Discrimination: If your employer treats you or another worker unfairly based on your race, ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin, disability or other protected characteristic, a violation of employment law has occurred.
These few examples only scratch the surface of the many violations an employer could commit. As a result, you may not know whether your employer has broken the law in regard to how he or she has treated you and your co-workers. Still, as an employee, you have legal rights and protections under federal and state laws, and your employer should abide by them.