Although workers can not typically prevent an employer from violating their rights, there are things that workers can do to protect themselves. The following is a list of five things that employees should be doing to prevent employers from taking advantage of them.
- Learn About Your Rights: Understanding your rights in the workplace is the first step toward protecting yourself from a wage violation. Information posted at your workplace and on the internet are valuable resources about your rights. The United States Department of Labor website and this website provide important access to detailed wage and hour law information.
- Save All Your Documents: Documentation of your hours worked, your job requirements and job duties allows an experienced employment law attorney to easily determine whether your rights have been violated. By saving all employee handbooks, paycheck stubs, tax returns, work-related emails and other documents relating to your employment, you will have evidence that could be used in support of your rights.
- Keep a Record: Although employers are required to maintain accurate records of employees’ work hours, these records are often inaccurate or non-existent. Many employers use work schedules to calculate the number of hours worked or fail to require their employees to use a time clock. By keeping a daily journal about your hours worked and the work you performed, you will have valuable evidence in support of your rights.
- Talk to an Attorney: Many times, the issues involved in determining whether an employee is being paid properly are complex and require the assistance of a professional. By taking the steps above and then contacting an experienced wage law attorney to discuss your rights, you will be able to receive advice on how best to proceed.
- Take Action: Standing up for yourself is often difficult and intimidating. However, without people, like yourself, who are willing to stand up for their rights, employers will continue to take advantage of you and others. Often, the only way to get an employers attention is to file a collective or class action lawsuit. Other times, simply making a complaint to the human resources department or talking to your boss is sufficient to protect you from having your rights violated.
By taking these steps, you will be in a very good position to make a knowledgeable decision about what action should be taken. Importantly, the federal law provides protections from retaliation for employees who stand up for their rights to overtime and minimum wage. While many states protect workers from retaliation who simply made a complaint to management, other states require more and therefore, you should contact a competent wage and hour law attorney prior to taking any action.