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Rice Law Office Blog

This blog reviews important legal issues including: personal injury, employee compensation, workers compensation, discrimination and wrongful termination.

Five Things Every Employee Should Know

Five Things Every Employee Should Know

1) Men and women must be paid equal wages if they perform substantially the same work under the Equal Pay Act.  

"Equal pay" refers to more than just your paycheck. Under this law, all employers must provide "equal pay" including: equal salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit-sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses and benefits.

2) Your employer cannot discriminate against you on the basis of your race, color, religion, sex or national origin in any terms or conditions of your employment, including compensation hours and benefits. 

 Under title VII of the civil rights act of 1964, any employer with at least 15 workers is required to provide equal employment opportunity. This means employers are prohibited from offering different pay for individuals doing the same or similar job or from employing other practices which would result in discrimination on the basis of a protected class such as denying promotions or taking other actions which would unfairly impacted employees' pay, work conditions or job security.

Under New Hampshire's discrimination law, RSA 354 – A the list of employees covered under the law is expanded to include a prohibition of discrimination on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation and pregnancy.

Between the state and Federal discrimination laws, New Hampshire employees must be treated fairly and cannot be discriminated on the basis of race, religion, nationality, gender, veteran status, color, disability, pregnancy, marital status or sexual orientation. Bottom line: even though most jobs in New Hampshire are considered "employment at will" and therefore allow either the employer or the employee to terminate employment at anytime for any reason, with or without notice, this does not give New Hampshire Employers a license to discriminate or violate other employment laws.

The federal and state discrimination laws will supersede the common-law concept of employment at will in the event that an employer discriminates against an employee on the basis of a protected status.

3) If you have received an unfair paycheck within the last 180 days, you can file a discrimination charge with the EEOC.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 dictates that each improper paycheck stub establishes a new claim under federal law, Title VII, regardless of when the discrimination originally began. Under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, employees have up to 180 days (300 in some states) to bring a claim at the EEOC after payment of the most recent paycheck that reflects unequal payment of wages. 

New Hampshire provides it's own state wage protection legislation that can also be relied upon to establish the basis upon which to bring a claim against an employer for improper payment of wages. Therefore, New Hampshire employees who believe they have been subjected to unfair way to practices should consider both state and federal remedies to ensure the most comprehensive protection.

4) If you work for a federal contractor, Executive Order (EO) 11246, prohibits your employer from discriminating in employment decisions, including compensation, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

If you work for a federal contractor or subcontractor and think you're being paid less than you should or in violation of the law, you can contact the office of federal contract compliance programs (OFCCP) in the US department of labor for guidance or assistance.

5) Most private sector employees have the right to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Section 7 of the NLRA protects nonsupervisory employees, who are covered by the act, from employer retaliation when they discuss their wages or working conditions with colleagues as part of an effort to improve them, even if there is no union or other formal organization involved in the effort. 

If you believe your rights under the NLRA have been violated, or that your employer or union has engaged in unlawful conduct you may file a charge through one of the NLRB's regional offices. 

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