Employment and labor laws exist to safeguard workers’ rights and regulate the relationship between workers and employers. Unfortunately, despite the existence of these laws, cases of violations of workers’ rights still exist. As a factory worker, you may be a victim of workplace discrimination, poor working conditions at the factory, and even retaliation for filing complaints. Usually, some of the cases go unreported due to the worker’s unfamiliarity with their rights. To help you protect your interests and rights as an employee, here are some of your rights as a factory worker that you should know:
All workers, including factory workers, have the right to equal treatment by their employers. The law protects you from any form of workplace discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics including, sex, age, national origin, color, religion, and race.
You shouldn’t be subject to discrimination at any stage of employment, ranging from recruitment to promotion and demotion. Your rights against discrimination not only apply to your employer but also colleagues, as they can also be perpetrators of the vice.
The right to equal treatment also includes remuneration and payment, which entitles you to equal pay for the same work despite your gender. Other forms of workplace discrimination that you have a right against are improper questions regarding your medical information and genetics, as well as denial of workplace change due to your disability or religious beliefs.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in charge of implementing anti-discriminatory laws at the workplace. These include the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Equal Pay Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Working in a factory comes with many risks, including poor air quality, electrical hazards, exposure to harmful chemicals, and even accidents with machines. As a factory worker, you have a right to safe working conditions that do not endanger your safety or health.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires every employer to provide safe working conditions for employees and is in place to prevent workplace injuries and death. Therefore, your employer cannot mandate you to work in an unsafe working environment or undertake tasks that present a danger to you.
As part of your right to a safe working environment, you have the right to information and training about your workplace hazards. You also have the right to training on how to prevent harm in case of exposure.
As a factory employee, you can request for workplace inspection by OSHA, as well as report any retaliation from your employer for exercising your rights under the OSHA Act. Other workers’ rights you enjoy as a factory worker under the OSHA Act are the right to speak privately with the inspector before and after an inspection, as well as the right to contest citations following the assessment. Lastly, if your employer subjects you to medical tests to establish the effect of the factory’s working environment on your health, you have the right to your medical records.
Your right to collective bargaining, also known as freedom of association, gives you the freedom to come together as factory workers, form a union, and elect a representative. The representative will then be in charge of negotiating your employment terms and conditions with your employer.
Collective bargaining ensures that you have an equal voice with your employer during negotiations and that your interests are heard and best represented. This is because trying to negotiate for favorable employment terms and benefits individually can be a challenge due to reasons such as power imbalance. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects your right to collective bargaining.
Although collective bargaining usually covers all employees, some states have laws that give workers the freedom to decide whether to join a union and pay dues or not. Also, note that it is against the law for your employer to punish you through actions such as transfers, stopping your job benefits or firing, for exercising your rights to collective bargaining. The law also protects you from retaliation or punishment by your employer for engaging in concerted actions, such as strikes for mutual aid or collective bargaining purposes.
As a factory worker, you must understand your workers’ rights to protect them and look out for your interests. It also put you in a better position to take necessary action whenever your rights are violated, which helps prevent future occurrences. For more information about your worker’s rights, it is advisable to consult a labor lawyer as they have a better understanding of your legal rights and obligations. If you feel like your employer has violated any of your worker’s rights, always seek legal advice before making any decision to ensure you handle the situation the right way.