Current Issues in Employee Rights and Discrimination in the US Work Places

There are a number of legally recognized protections for employees in all sectors dealing with human resources. These are regarded as employee rights that protect individuals from ill-treatment in the place of work. The basic categories of these rights include those concerning organization of labor union through which employees can consult with employers for the purpose of improving their employment terms such as remuneration and hours of work, safety in the place of work, employee compensation as well as fairness in recruitment or in the place of work. Currently, managers and employers are being faced with issues regarding employee rights in their human resource management practices (Barbara 1997).

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Failure to adhere to these rights makes it difficult for businesses to accomplish organizational goals. The privacy of employees, Fundamental employee rights are thus a significant factor in a wide range of human resource management issues that small business owners and supervisors face today, including questions concerning employee privacy, policies regarding promotion, inquiries in to the use of drugs by employees, management of employee information, performance appraisals and monitoring as well as freedom of contact with labor unions are some of the issues that human resource managers have to deal with in the contemporary business environment (Joseph 1992).

Discrimination in the place of work is one of the issues that are emphasized to a great extent by the federal laws. Employers are supposed to provide equal employment regardless of race, religious affiliation, nationality and sex. Every employee has a right to be treated fairly under these laws. The growing concerns in the manner through which men and women are treated in the work place has made much emphasis to be focused on equal employment opportunities for both sexes, and also equal treatment in terms of remuneration and allocation of tasks. Other recent developments in employee rights are the laws providing for equal employment opportunities for the qualified people who are disabled. In case of discrimination, the federal laws provide for pecuniary damages. All these laws are put into effect by the “United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission” (Barbara 1997).

Labor unions are essential for employees especially through their support for collective bargaining. They are usually not meant to mobilize the employees against the employer, but rather to strengthen their relationship through facilitating employee satisfaction. Employees have a right to associate and interact with labor unions, which are supposed to be recognized. The safety of employees is also one of the most significant issues in the recent developments regarding employee rights. This has raised concern especially due to the growing innovativeness in organizations, increasing the potential hazards that employees are exposed to. Every employee has a right to be informed and protected from these hazards.

The contemporary work place has developed in to a more employee rights oriented than the conventional employer-employee relationship whereby the workers were supposed to adhere to all the employer’s demands devoid of questions regardless of their impact on their rights. Currently, employees can file legal grievances in opposition to their employer. Under such circumstances, the employer is not supposed to punish the employees in any manner. This is an employee right that is currently being practiced in many places of work. It has enhanced privacy in regard to employee information. This is because they have a right to confidentiality and they can file complaints against organizations for defamation and exposure of personal information without the employees’ consent. In today’s competitive environment it employers may tend to influence the employees to undertake particular tasks that affect their lives. They have a right to refute such decisions that have adverse effects on their lives (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 2004).

Employee rights are currently being influenced by external factors such as the demographic changes. These, together with general changes in the society have made it necessary for both parents in a family to be engaged in full or part time employment. This in turn has affected most families, and there is an increasing need for employers to help the employees to maintain work life balance. Flexibility in the place of work is needed, for examp1e in order for female employees to work and still have ample time to care for their children. In this regard, employees have a right to paid leave. Employees are not allowed to dismiss female employees on the basis of family issues such as maternity leave (Joseph 1992). On the other hand, employees are also entitled to sick leave. The increasing demand for employment has also resulted in a rise in the number of part time employment. Such employees are also entitled to be treated equally with the full time employees. However, many employees do not understand their rights as part time employees, such as leave and employee benefits. Currently, there is need to sensitize them in regard to their rights.

In the recent past, there has been a growing concern in regard to the rights of employees to privacy in the work place. As employees continue expecting expanded privacy in the place of work, employees are also concerned especially with the rising innovations in organizations. Employees have a right to privacy, although employers have a growing concern in regard to the tendency for employees to use the organization’s information technology equipment for personal services and other unwarranted activities such as viewing of illicit material on the internet. This is one issue concerning employee rights that still remains unresolved. Despite the fact that employees have a right to privacy, there is need for employers to ensure that their equipments are not used for any other activities outside the workplace requirements. There are increasing cases whereby the rights of employees are violated through invasion of their offices and computers through orders from their seniors (Coelho 1998).

It is important for employers to ensure a favorable working environment. Employees have a right to work in an environment that is not hostile. There should be respect for the dignity of employees regardless of their socio-economic status. There are situations whereby employers have been found to use the information of employees regarding their health status in order to secure insurance covers. Employees have a right to access information regarding their welfare issues. There situations whereby employees are finding their personal information being used by unscrupulous employers. This comes as a result of the increasing demand for employment, which does not correspond to the available opportunities (Joseph 1992). Many employees usually ignore the background information of their employers in order not to lose the available chances. There is need to ensure that they acquire the necessary information about their employer, which is their right.

The employees who work at home also have a right to privacy and their property should not be invaded by their employers for the reason that they work for a particular organization. Even when there is monitoring and routine surveillance, the employee should be informed before such kind of organizational activities are carried out. Employers who ambush their employees do it against the law. Even issues regarding testing employees for drugs should be approached with caution since they have a right to be informed on the reasons for such activities. The employers should do this with a fundamental reason within the law in regard to investigation of the medical history of the employee. With the increasing ailments and employees who live on drugs such as the HIV positive workers, there is a growing tendency for employers to investigate the medical lives of their employees without a legitimate reason. Such employees have a right to decline such drug tests without punishment from employers (Coelho 1998).

Apart from the rights of part time employees receiving equal treatment as the permanent employees, even the temporary employees have their rights. The number of temporary employees continues increasing due to the increasing demand for employment. They are usually engaged over a period of time when organizations are experiencing huge work loads. Such an employee, unless if engaged on contract basis, has a right to terminate employment any time. They also have a right to compensation for unemployment if the period of time worked is enough to qualify them for such benefits. The laws regarding discrimination in the place of work apply equally as they do to permanent or part time employees. All employees have a right to be protected from violence in the work place (Joseph 1992). The employer has a duty to protect them from all hazards that they may encounter in the work place, whereby violence is regarded as one of the potential hazards.

Conclusion

The fundamental rights of employees are necessary for their own welfare and performance in the place of work. They enhance the relationship between the employer and employees, which is important in the organization’s productivity. Employee rights continue to expand in reaction to the new developments in the job market. The shift from one parent working in a family to both parents is one of the factors that have facilitated the new developments in employee rights. Demographic changes have also been noted to generate the new developments. It is important for the employees to understand their rights. On the other hand, employers need to understand the rights of their employees in order for them to avoid unwarranted conflicts with the law.

Bibliography

Barbara F. (1997). The ABA Guide to Workplace Law: Everything You Need to Know About Your Rights as an Employee or Employer. Times Books.

Coelho R. (1998). Employer vs. employee rights on workplace e-mail, Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal, viewed on 25th June 2009 at, <http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/1998/10/26/focus4.html.>

Joseph D. L. (1992). The Human Resource Problem-Solver’s Handbook. McGraw-Hill,.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2004). Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws, viewed on 24th June 2009 at, <http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeo/overview_laws.html >

 

 

 

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