What are my rights as an employee if I feel that I have been treated unfairly at work?
Your rights as an employee are determined by contract and by law. Most employees are so-called “at-will,” meaning that you are free to leave your employment at anytime and your employer is free to terminate or make changes to your employment at any time, as long as such changes are effective prospectively (i.e. in the future) only. Some employees, usually union-members, are employed under a contract that sets specific obligations on the employee and employer in terms of pay, termination rights, and other changes to the employment relationship. It is important to understand whether you are employed at-will or under a contract. “At-will” status is the norm and is not changed by an offer letter or personnel policy that describes your compensation, duties, and other employment terms, although such documents may be important in determining whether an employment action occurred due to an unlawful reason.
Regardless of whether you are an at-will or a contract employee, the law prohibits employers from treating you differently due to your race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, and certain other characteristics. This is what is known as a protected “status.” The law also provides protection to employees for their wages and certain other workplace benefits. It is equally illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for raising a complaint, either internally or publicly, about discriminatory treatment.