Take a Look at Your Employment Rights

With the economy slowing, now is a good time for you to become familiar with your employment rights. Being prepared is the key to avoiding tough employment issues before they arise.

Types Of Employees

In Maryland, there are generally two categories of employees - "At-Will" employees and contract employees. Most people are "at-will" employees. "At-will" employees work at the will of their employer. That means that an employer can hire and fire employees for just about any reason as long as it does not amount to a wrongful discharge or discrimination. Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of age, race, sex, disability, national origin, religion or pregnancy, and cannot subject an employee to a hostile environment based on these protected categories.

Free From Discrimination

The right to be free from discrimination in employment is protected by Federal, State and local laws. The procedures for filing discrimination complaints are time-sensitive and can be complicated. It is best to get a handle on these procedures before a discriminatory workplace becomes intolerable. Too many people wait until the situation is out of hand and miss their opportunity to address the problem because the time to file a complaint has passed. If you encounter workplace discrimination, you should complain immediately to your boss or Human Resources department.

Employee Handbooks

In addition to your rights to a discrimination-free work environment, employers themselves often have policies and procedures that govern how they interact with their employees. Often, these procedures can be found in an employee handbook, and in some cases, promises made in the employee handbook can be contractually binding. It is important to be familiar with your employer's policies because you never know when you will find yourself in a situation where your knowledge of your employment rights can mean the difference between a difficult situation and one that is easily handled.

Contract Employees

If you are a contract employee, the terms of your contract govern your employment rights. Employment contracts can be complicated and confusing, so be sure to read any contract very carefully before you sign it. You can be sure that your employer will know the terms of the contract.

Prepare Yourself

In the employment arena, preparation is the key to avoiding difficult situations before they arise. Knowing your employment rights can be the difference between a healthy work environment and one that is intolerable. No one expects to encounter discrimination at work, but a thorough knowledge of your employment rights can help you handle even the toughest situations.