End the employee fight, it’s time to know your workers’ rights!

Taira Astete, Staff Writer

Workers’ rights are given to workers by the Department of Labor. Labor laws are implemented to help ensure a safe and fair work experience for employees, including that of teens.

According to the Department of Labor, 4.7 million American teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were employed in 2020. Forming an evident amount in the workforce, they have the same rights as every worker, though with some differences due to age.

One is the right to fair pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 established the official minimum wages. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the act ended harmful work standards to protect well-being of workers and outlawed child labor under the age of 14, meaning that teens may work from that age; working hours are limited to those under the age of 16.

Teens are not subject to FLSA, meaning that they are subject to their state’s minimum wage laws. According to Minimum-Wage.org, in the state of Florida, the teen minimum wage is $4.25 per hour, and hourly minimum wage for all is $10 per hour. 

The right to a safe workplace with safe machinery and provided safety equipment is also ensured to teens. Passed under the OSH Act, it established a requirement for safe and healthy working conditions for workers by imposing the minimization of hazards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance to employees.

The law states that employers must maintain a hazard-free workplace. In addition, employees have the right to speak up about dangers without fear of any consequences. 

Moreover, teen workers have the right to unpaid leave. This right was established under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides the justifiable reasons as to which you can take unpaid leave.

This law gives employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave a year, with medical benefits. It can only be used for the birth of a child, the arrangement of an adoption or foster child, required assistance to an ill immediate family member or a serious health condition on the employee’s part.

Employees also have the right to report an injury at work or an illness. 

The law, also established under the OSH Act, states that workers can report an injury or illness occurring in the workplace, receive copies of their medical records, see copies of workplace injury and illness records and review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.

Workers also have the right to not face any discrimination. Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their race, color, religion, sex and/or national origin. This law was implemented after countless years of discrimination based on these characteristics. Nationwide protests for equal rights pushed for the bill’s passing. According to this law, workers cannot be denied a job, harassed, demoted, fired, paid less or treated less approvingly due to their race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a veteran protected by the nation. 

This, however, did not really end discrimination in the workplace. Though unlawful, it remains an ongoing, nationwide issue. 

According to Glassdoor, 61 percent of the employees in this country have experienced or witnessed discrimination based on age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. 

When workers’ rights (such as this one) are infringed, they have the lawful right to make their employer/co-worker face consequences for violating their right(s).