Employee Rights Questions and Answers

Group of people having a break in the cafeteria
••• nd3000 / Getty Images

There are many circumstances where it's important to know your rights, both at work and when you are job hunting.

Here's information on employment regulations and labor laws that provide protection against hiring and workplace discrimination, harassment, termination of employment, and wage and salary violations. There are also definitions of the terms relating to job seeker and employee rights explained in plain language.

Employee Rights Questions and Answers

Interviews, Hiring, and Onboarding: Before you even apply for a job or go to an employment interview, you should know that there are certain questions that it is illegal for hiring committees to ask job candidates. There is also personal information that cannot be requested for jobs in the United States, but which may be required if you apply for work abroad.

Discrimination: The United States has very strict regulations governing discrimination in hiring and in the workplace. Employers are expected to adhere to these rules (which is why many job announcements and employer websites will contain a boilerplate statement like, “It is the policy of (Name of Company) not to discriminate against any applicant for employment, or any employee, because of age, color, sex, disability, national origin, race, religion, or veteran status”).

Foreign Labor Laws: Here is information for foreign nationals about how to apply for a job in the United States and their rights under U.S. law.

Drug Testing / Employee Privacy Laws: Drug testing in the workplace is largely governed by state law and individual company policy, except for industries like transportation, safety, defense, transit, and aviation, where it is required by federal law. Candidates for federal, state, and county jobs are also frequently required to submit to drug testing.

Workplace Harassment: Every employee is entitled to a workplace that is free of physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual harassment. Know what constitutes workplace harassment and how to respond to it should it occur.

Vacation / Holidays / Time Off / Leave: How much vacation time are you entitled to in your current job? Is your employer required to give you time off during national holidays? Here are some answers.

Wage, Salary, and Benefits: Your paycheck and benefits are dependent upon numerous factors – whether you have seniority in your position, if you work full- or part-time, or if you are .

Work Breaks / Overtime: Is your employer required to give (or pay you for) scheduled work breaks? Can they demand that you work overtime? The answer is, “It depends.”

Termination / Unemployment: All good things (and certainly all jobs) must come to an end – it’s as inevitable as death and taxes. Here’s what to expect when you either willingly resign for a job or are terminated.

Employment Laws: Here are many of the most important federal laws governing employment practices in the United States.

Top 10 Workplace Violations

If you have more questions about your rights and entitlements as a worker, review this list of the  to determine whether your employer has complied with the most common legal requirements established to protect employees.