Discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment by managers, co-workers, or others in the workplace because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, transgender status, and sexual orientation), pregnancy, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information
Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation for disability or religious beliefs
Retaliation because they complained about job discrimination, or helped with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit
Businesses and state and local governments must have at least 15 employees for EEOC involvement in most types of discrimination complaints.
For age discrimination complaints:
Businesses must have at least 20 employees.
State and local governments have no minimum number of employees.
Federal agencies are covered by EEOC laws for all types of discrimination no matter how many employees they have.
Filing a Charge with the EEOC
If you are being harassed or discriminated against, you can file a charge with the EEOC. You have 180 days from the date of the event to file a complaint. In some situations, this deadline may be extended.
Victims of discrimination or harassment can file a lawsuit. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against under federal law, you must first file a charge with the EEOC, except for cases involving unequal pay between men and women.
You may decide to sue if the EEOC can’t help you with your complaint. In either case, look for an attorney who specializes in employment law. You can check with:
If you are an employer with concerns about false FMLA leave, contact the Wage and Hour Division with any questions about FMLA compliance and seek the advice of your company's legal and human resources departments.
A labor union or trade union is an organization of workers which bargains with employers on behalf of union members and negotiates labor contracts. Elected union leaders negotiate specific items of employment including:
Pay and benefits
Hiring and firing guidelines
Help with unfair labor practices
Agreements union leaders negotiate are binding on the union members, the employer, and in some cases, on other non-union workers. Labor unions can be found in the private sector, federal agencies or at a state or local government place of employment.
Private Sector (Non-Government) Employees
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent federal agency which has oversight to protect the rights of most private-sector (non-government) employees to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative.
If you and your co-workers want to start a union or join or end your representation in an existing one, file a petition form. Your petition must show the support of at least 30 percent of your fellow employees.
The NLRB does not handle complaints or inquiries about certain forms of employment discrimination such as race, sex, issues regarding workplace safety, entitlement to overtime pay, or family and medical leave. Federal and state laws and agencies regulate those forms of employment discrimination. Visit the related agencies section of the NLRB website to see which agency can help with your specific complaint.
Federal and State Government Employees
If you are a federal employee and have a question or complaint about federal unions, contact the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), an independent federal agency responsible for the labor-management relations program. It establishes policies and resolves disputes for most federal employees and their managers.
If you and your fellow employees want to be represented by a union, contact an FLRA regional office to see if one already exists at your agency. If one does not exist and you are interested in representation, file a petition form with your closest FLRA regional office.
If you are a state or local government employee and have a question about unions, contact the information officer of the NLRB regional office closest to your job.
Misclassification is when an employer declares that a worker is an independent contractor instead of an employee, even if that worker should be classified as an employee under the law. This can affect a worker’s pay, protections, and benefits as well as cause tax problems for both businesses and workers.
If you have a complaint about safety issues occurring inside a trucking building or facility, there are a variety of ways for workers to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
As of January 1, 2017, certain employers are required to electronically submit injury or illness data. Doing this allows OSHA to improve enforcement of workplace safety requirements and provide valuable information online for workers, job seekers, customers, and the general public. The new rule also prohibits employers from discouraging their workers from reporting an injury or illness.
Workers' compensation laws protect employees who get hurt on the job or sick from it. The laws establish workers’ comp, a form of insurance that employers pay for. These laws vary from state to state and for federal employees. In general, workers’ comp provides:
Coverage for workers’ medical expenses
Compensation for lost wages while a worker is out recovering
Benefits for dependents of workers who died from job-related hazards
Private Sector and State or Local Government Employees
If you get hurt working for a private company or state or local government, seek help through your state. Your state workers' compensation program can help you file a claim. If your claim is denied, you can appeal.
Longshoremen, Harbor Workers, Coal Miners, and Federal Employees
Federal laws protect longshoremen, harbor workers, coal miners, and federal employees. Contact the workers' compensation program that applies to you for help filing a claim.
If you feel that you have been wrongfully fired from a job or let go from an employment situation, you may wish to learn more about your state's wrongful discharge laws.
Wrongful termination or wrongful discharge laws vary from state to state.
Some states are "employment-at-will" states, which means that if there is no employment contract (or collective bargaining agreement), an employer can let an employee go for any reason, or no reason, with or without notice, as long as the discharge does not violate a law.
If you feel you have been wrongfully discharged or terminated from employment, you may:
Contact your State Labor Office for more information on wrongful termination laws in your state.
Seek legal counsel if your employer terminated you for any reason not covered under state or federal law.
If you are under 18 and want to get a job it is important to know what rights and restrictions you have as a worker. Youth labor laws are designed to protect you from unsafe and inappropriate work experiences and to make sure that your job doesn’t interfere with your schooling. These laws establish:
What types of work you’re allowed to do
When you’re allowed to work
How many hours per week you’re allowed to work
How much you should be paid
The Department of Labor’s Youth Rules website helps you:
Know the Rules: Select your age and learn what work you’re allowed to do and when you’re allowed to work.
Find Support: Learn about other agencies that can help you and learn how to file a complaint.
Youth Rules also has a Law Library, which includes both federal and state laws. The rules for young employees are different depending on your age and the state you live in. When federal and state rules are different, the rules that provide the most protection apply.