Discrimination is the unfair hiring practices or treatment of someone based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic (personal or family medical history) information.
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic (personal or family medical history) information. Harassment becomes illegal when the offensive conduct:
continues and becomes a condition of employment, or
is severe enough to create a work environment that is intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal labor law that allows an eligible employee to take an extended leave of absence from work due to illness or to care for a sick family member. The leave guaranteed by the FMLA is unpaid and is available to those working for employers with 50 or more employees.
Protections under FMLA
The law recognizes the needs of balancing family and work obligations and promises numerous protections to eligible employees. Some of these protections include:
12 work weeks of leave per 12 months for various reasons:
Caring for a newborn child
Handling adoption or foster care placement issues
Caring for a sick child, spouse, or parent
Being physically unable to perform one's job
Restoration to the same position upon return to work - If the same position is unavailable, the employer must provide the worker with a position that is substantially equal in pay, benefits, and responsibility.
Protection of employee benefits even while on leave - An employee is entitled to all benefits that he/she was receiving before going on leave.
Questions or Reporting a Violation of the FMLA
If you have unanswered questions about the FMLA:
Call 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365) or TTY at 1-877-889-5627 for additional assistance or
If you believe that someone violated your rights under the FMLA, you should:
Call 1-866-487-9243 or visit the Wage and Hour Division website to be directed to the nearest office for assistance. There are Wage and Hour Division offices throughout the country with trained professionals to help you.
Have this information available when filing a complaint.
A labor union or trade union is an organization of workers. The union 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 guidlines
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 Employees
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent federal agency which has oversight to protect the rights of most private-sector 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 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 a FLRA regional office to see if one already exist 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.
Workers' compensation laws ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job receive fixed payments, making lawsuits unnecessary. These laws also provide benefits for dependents of workers who died due to work-related accidents or illnesses. Some laws also protect employers and fellow workers by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover from an employer and by removing the co-workers' liability in most accidents.
Private Sector and State/Local Government Employees
Individuals injured on the job while employed by private companies or state and local government agencies should contact their state workers' compensation program for eligibility, assistance, and filing procedures for workers' compensation benefits.
Federal Employees, Longshoremen, Harbor Workers, and Coal Miners
If you are a federal employee, longshoreman, harbor worker, or coal miner, contact the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) by phone at 1-202-693-0036 (TTY: 1-877-889-5627). OWCP representatives can help you with claim procedures.
Workers' Compensation Appeals
The appeals process for workers' compensation varies from state to state. If you received a denial of benefits and you wish to file an appeal, contact your state workers' compensation office for information on how to file.
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) which provides otherwise, 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: