Every day, you head into work, clock in, and work hard to provide for your family and support your employer’s goals. When that employer does not treat you with the same measure of respect that you provide, you may find yourself in a difficult situation. Whether you are wrongfully discharged, face discrimination or sexual or racial harassment in the workplace, or experience some other type of violation of your rights as a worker, you may find yourself in need of an attorney’s services to ensure your rights are not violated. Daniel R. Fjelstad, PLLC, has been representing individuals in employment litigation since 1988. Dan has always worked on the employee side of these dispute because that’s where his heart lies, even though having been an employer most of his career.
Understanding Your Rights in Employment Disputes
In Washington, as in most states, employment is “at will.” That means that absent an employment contract specifying the grounds which permit termination, an employee can be fired at any time, for any reason. There are exceptions to this rule, however. As an employee, you are given certain rights by law that protect your ability to do your job well. If you feel that those rights have been violated by your employer, you should seek legal counsel. Some common infractions include:
- Wrongful Discharge -All terminations feel “wrong” if they are without just cause, but wrongful discharge only occurs when you are terminated for an illegal reason, like discrimination, a breach of your employment contract, or blowing the whistle on your employer’s illegal conduct.
- Employment Discrimination – Your employer does not have the legal right to discriminate against you based on race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability, or age. If you are treated in a discriminatory way, you need to get legal help.
- Sexual Harassment – Your workplace should be a place where you can work without fear of unwanted sexual advances. If you ahve been harassed, talk to a lawyer.
- Wage-and-Hour Violations – If you are not paid a proper minimum wage or correct overtime wages, you need to report the violation. Both federal and state law protect your right to a minimum wage, as well as time-and-a-half if you work over 40 hours a week.
- Non-compete Disputes – In certain industries, employers ask employees to sign non-compete contracts, which state they will not work for or share information with competitors. If you face a dispute involving your non-compete agreement, talk to an attorney to get the right help and direction.
- Severance Package Negotiation – If you are offered a severance package from your employer, you may wish to enlist an attorney’s help in negotiating terms that are fair.