The holiday season may be full of joy, but it's not always an easy time for Ohio workers. There are several violations of labor and employment laws that spike during the holidays, and if you're affected by those violations, you need to know your rights. Here are three big questions you should be asking during the holidays and how an employment lawyer can help if the answer to any of them is "no."
Are you being paid appropriately for all hours worked?
During the holidays, many businesses (especially in retail and food service) are in their busy season, which means there's a lot of overtime for some workers. There's nothing wrong with your employer asking you to step up and work additional hours during the holidays, but unless you meet the legal criteria to be exempt, they have to pay you for all hours worked, including overtime, for any hours in excess of 40 in a given workweek. That includes travel time that is part of your job, time spent putting on and taking off any required gear, and any other responsibilities.
In addition, remember that if you receive any bonuses or commissions during the holidays and you also work overtime in the same week, your overtime rate should take your bonus into account.
It's important to keep careful track of your hours and compare them to your paychecks to ensure that you are being appropriately compensated. An attorney can help you set things right if you are underpaid.
Is your employer showing partiality based on nationality or religion?
Religious and cultural holidays often mean there are time off requests and other accommodations needed on the part of employers. Remember, employers are required to reasonably accommodate an employee's religion. That may include granting time off (paid or unpaid) for a religious holiday or modifying your work schedule during the week that contains a holiday.
However, employers are also not to engage in religious discrimination, including religious and non-religious employees. That means not showing partiality to a particular religion in accommodations. It also means an employer can't simply assume that an employee who isn't religious doesn't need a particular holiday off and schedule them on that day.
Are you a victim of sexual harassment?
Workplace sexual harassment is another violation that can spike around the holidays, especially with the use of alcohol at office holiday parties. It may be blatant, such as unwanted touching or even sexual assault, or it may be more subtle and pervasive, like a pattern of sexualized jokes or comments, but either way, sexual harassment should not be tolerated.
Employers need to proactively train their managers and employees on professionalism and sexual harassment prevention. They also need to address any incidents promptly and create a safe environment for both victims and witnesses to report sexual harassment. If your employer doesn't follow the law and protect employees from illegal harassment, you have legal recourse.
Talk to an experienced employment law attorney about your rights.
The last thing you should have to deal with during the holiday season is a legal conflict with your employer. However, you don't have to go it alone if you're in this situation. We know the applicable federal and Ohio laws, and we would be happy to explain your rights and options as you decide what to do next. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Gibson Law LLC.