Numerous studies show that employees often leave jobs over a bad boss, not because they don’t like the job. Good employees leave bad bosses all the time. But having a bad employer can not only negatively affect your work, it can also affect your finances and health.
Whistleblower laws protect employees from speaking out against unethical or illegal behaviors in the workplace. However, many employees don’t know their rights, and don’t know what their bosses and managers are not legally allowed to do. That’s why we’ve made this list of common illegal things employers 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
Employees have the right to sue their bad boss. We often ignore some warning signs, or try not to feel bothered by them. However, having a bad boss can be as bad for your health as smoking! The illegal things bad employers get away with are astounding. If you compensation for their bad employer’s wrongdoing.
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.
Your employer doesn’t respect break time
There’s 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.
For example, let’s say you do live in a protected state and you have to eat lunch while you’re still working. Since you’re not relieved from your duties as an employee, this is not considered “break time,” and your employer needs to pay you.
If you live in an unprotected state, you can still be paid overtime hours if it qualifies. Bad employers refuse to pay for these overtime hours, or will make ridiculous claims about what constitutes an unpaid break.
Your employer won’t pay for overtime hours or respect working hours
Generally, any time that goes over your 8 hour work day or over the 40 hour work week 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 all hour they “suffer or permit.”
This means your employer can’t force you to work overtime, but they have to pay your overtime if you work it.
Your employer cannot force you to work overtime hours unless you have agreed to them. As an employee, you need to set boundaries between off time and working time. There are instances, however, when your bad employer violates those boundaries.
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. 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
What your employer can legally do is phone you when you’re sick or ask for a doctor’s note. This time is still unpaid 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
You’re an independent contractor or freelancer, but treated as an employee
Bad employers hire an employees as “freelancers” so they don’t have to pay for benefits or provide other legal protections. This can make life difficult for freelancers because they’re often treated as a regular employee, 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 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. If you’re a freelancer, call an employment lawyer to ensure your contract is legal, and won’t negatively effect your career.
Your employer creates a hostile work environment
Any kind of bullying, harassment, or discrimination agaisnt you by another employee or your employer in 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 an employee from making racist jokes, firing a manager for sexual harassment, or banning an customer for harassing at an employee.
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
As long as the claims are true, you can post about your job on social media. Running to social media as soon as something bad happens probably isn’t the smartest thing to do. However, there’s no law saying you can’t complain about your job on social media. Most employers may limit what you can post online. Be sure to check your employee handbook before you post.
Your employer is allowed to check your social media. They can even penalize you for defamatory statements, or for posting confidential and sensitive information. Before you post on social media, be sure to check your employee contract to see if there are limitations to what you can post or if you have to worry about intellectual property.
It can be tempting to use social media as a way to expose your bad employer’s unethical behavior. However, if you want to sue your employer and get real compensation for your suffering, you should speak to a lawyer rather than Twitter.
You were fired or punished for something illegal
There’s lots of reasons why you can be fired, but there’s a lot that you legally can’t be fired for. You cannot lose your job on the grounds of:
- An unrelated personal conflict
There are other things your bad employer cannot fire you for, that employees often do lose their jobs over. If you are fired without reason or for something illegal, you can sue your employer for compensation.
Also Read: What Happens If you Get Laid Off
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. Employees have the right to call their employers out on unethical and illegal activity. 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.
Bad Employer Warning Signs
Ever been to a job interview and just felt something was a little off about it? We often get a little desperate when looking for a job, and ignore bad employer red flags. Although most of these things are not illegal, they are warning signs that should deter you.
There’s a high turnover of employees
Do you notice that this employer always seems to be hiring? Or were you hired on the spot? There’s lots of entry-level jobs that are only meant to act as stepping stone positions, so you might only be there for a few months. But if you notice that most people don’t even make it past probation, there’s probably a good reason for it.
There’s an endless hiring process
Is your employer asking you to go above and beyond before they’ve even hired you? It’s common in some instances that employers ask for a portfolio of your work, or for you to prepare something for your interview. But are they asking a little too much of you? Is that entry-level job asking you to attend multiple interviews?
Your interviewer is rude, disinterested, or seems unhappy
We all have off days, but do you get a major sense of negativity coming from your interviewer or others working? Do you notice your interviewer asking inappropriate questions that would discriminate against you? An employer cannot refuse to hire you based on your race, religion, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, age, familial status, disability, or financial status.
Your interviewer asks inappropriate questions
Your employer cannot refuse to hire you for discriminatory reasons. This not only includes questions that could possibly discriminate against you, but also personal and invasive questions that don’t pertain to the position. This includes:
- Questions about your children such as how old they are or if they’re in daycare
- Where you grew up or went to highschool
- Citizenship status
- What your partner does for a living
- Invasive questions about age
- Your opinion on who you work with
- If you’ve experienced a serious illness in the last year
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.
When To Call A Lawyer
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.