Numerous studies show that employees often leave jobs over a bad boss, not because they don’t like the job. Having a bad employer not only negatively affects your work, but it can also affect your finances and health. When your bad boss starts to take it too far, it might be time to call a lawyer.
Whistleblower laws protect employees from speaking up about unethical or illegal activities in the workplace. We made this list of common illegal things bad bosses often get away with. This list can help you decide whether or not you should sue your bad employer.
7 Red Flags You Should Sue Your Bad Employer
We often ignore some warning signs or try not to feel bothered by them because we’re at work. However, having a bad boss can be as bad for your health as smoking!
Employment laws can change from state to state. However, there are national laws that protect workers against bad employers. Be sure to check your state’s labor laws for more details and semantics on some of these common rules.
Also Read: Employment Contract Lawyer Tips & Advice
Your employer doesn’t respect break time or time off
There are no federal laws on lunch and rest breaks. There are only a few states with laws on lunch and rest breaks. However, federal law considers rest breaks compensable and should be legally included in an employee’s working hours.
As long as the break is authorized and agreed upon, that break becomes an extension of that employee’s working hours. If you work in a state that has no break laws, breaks are considered voluntary by your employer and can be revoked.
In protected states, if you’re not relieved from your working duties, this is not considered “break time,” and your employer needs to pay you.
Your employer won’t pay for overtime hours or respect working hours
Generally, anything over an 8-hour workday or over the 40-hour workweek is considered overtime. The standard rate for overtime pay is time and a half. This can change depending on your state. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees they “suffer or permit.”
Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About Overtime Pay
Your employer doesn’t respect your right to medical time off
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to have time off for medical reasons without losing their jobs. Many bad employers don’t respect this, and often fire employees for a no-call no-show if they do need time off for medical reasons. Your time off is still unpaid, even under FMLA. Some states do offer paid sick leave, so be sure to check if your state does.
Also Read: Understanding How Sick Leave Works
What your employer can legally do is phone you when you’re sick or ask for a doctor’s note.
The FMLA also protects those who need to take time off for:
- Having a baby
- Taking care of children or other dependents
- Getting sick or feeling unwell
Also Read: What Happens If You’re Wrongfully Fired For A No Call No Show
You’re an independent contractor or freelancer, but treated as an employee
Freelancers don’t have the same benefits or legal protections as at-will employees. This can make life difficult for freelancers because they’re often treated like regular employees, but without any benefits. Freelance laws change depending on your state, but bad employers will:
- Force you to work as a fulltime employee.
- Make you sign a non-compete clause that affects who you work for after you leave the employer.
- Make you sign a non-compete clause that prohibits you from working with any other employer.
- Forces you to sign an extensive intellectual property agreement.
Intellectual property agreements state that the work you do while working for an employer belongs to them. It makes sense that you’re not allowed to sell your old work to your employer’s competitor. However, you shouldn’t have your career held back from this contract. Ask your employer to sign you on as a permanent employee or respect you as a freelancer.
If you are a freelancer and prefer it that way, you should have a lawyer look over your employment contract. This way, you can get advice on how your contract can affect you as a freelancer.
Your employer creates a hostile work environment
Any kind of bullying, harassment, or discrimination against you by another employee or your employer is unacceptable. In fact, even abusive comments from customers also fall under this category.
Your employer needs to create an environment that’s safe for you and other employees. To do this, your employer must take active measures such as stopping racist jokes, properly addressing sexual harassment, or banning customers due to harassment.
What your employer can legally do is take time to investigate complaints. They should do this in a reasonable time. Your employer can also set up surveillance cameras and go over old footage as evidence.
Your employer punishes you over what you post on social media
Your employer is allowed to check your social media. You can get in trouble for defamatory statements, or for posting confidential and sensitive information.
It can be tempting to use social media as a way to expose your bad employer’s unethical behavior. But if you want any real compensation for your suffering, you should speak to a lawyer rather than Twitter.
Also Read: Defamation of Character Lawsuit FAQ
You were fired or punished for something illegal
Have you noticed your boss asking inappropriate questions that would discriminate against you? An employer cannot refuse to fire you based on your race, religion, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, age, familial status, disability, or financial status. Most employers won’t admit to firing you for discriminatory reasons, but they may ask you things like:
- How old your kids are, if they’re in daycare, and if you want more.
- Citizenship status.
- What your partner does for a living and how much they make.
- Invasive questions about age.
- Your opinion on who you work with.
You cannot be fired for something illegal like whistleblowing or discrimination. However, as an at-will employee, your boss can legally fire you anything, even if it’s ridiculous or unethical. You can still take legal action against your former boss for unlawful termination that includes:
- An unrelated personal conflict
Also Read: Unlawful Termination FAQ
Your employer penalizes you for speaking out against them
You may bring up some of your employer’s illegal activity, or something unethical happening in the workplace. This is called whistleblowing and your employer cannot fire you for doing it. If you do bring up an issue with your employer and they react poorly to your claims by either firing you or threatening you, call a lawyer right away.
Also Read: Whistleblowing: 6 Workers Rights Everyone Should Know
When To Call A Lawyer
Make copies of all contracts and employee handbooks. These are good references in case any illegal activity occurs. You may sign something that has you agreeing to illegal provisions. If you’ve signed something you think is illegal for an employer to ask you, call a lawyer and ask about the employment laws in your state.
Your bad employer might make you feel powerless or like you have no legal rights as an employee. A lawyer can get you what you’re legally entitled to, and help you sue your bad boss.
If your employer has done any of these actions or has done something illegal, call a lawyer immediately.