Treating employees with respect and fairness is critical for two
reasons. First, it establishes a company's reputation for fairness
and impartiality. This reputation is carefully scrutinized by
individuals both within and outside of the organization and is a
vital factor in keeping and attracting desirable employees. The
second, equally important reason is that identifying and safeguarding
employee rights reduces the possibility of the company becoming
embroiled in charges of discrimination, lengthy litigation and costly
Employee rights fall into three categories: the right to job
security, the right to fair treatment by the employer and the right
to fair treatment in the workplace.
Right to Fair Treatment by Employer
Fair treatment of employees includes honoring their rights to privacy
and providing feedback regarding their performance in order to enable
them to successfully meet job requirements.
Examples of employee privacy include:
* The right to refuse a polygraph or drug test as a condition for
* The right to access employment records. Although federal agencies
and only six states have laws regarding this right, over 50% of major
national companies now have written guidelines for allowing employees
access to their personnel files;
* The right to prohibit release of information regarding the
employee to other organizations without the employee's consent.
Fair treatment of the employee is guaranteed by:
* The right to specific information regarding company expectations
and prohibitions as stated in an Employee Manual;
* The right to due process procedures icluding consistent rules and
protocol for grievances;
* The right to a progressive system of discipline including: an oral
warning, a written warning, suspension, transfer or demotion, and, as
a last resort, discharge.
Right to Fair Treatment Within the Workplace
Executives often forget that their employees are entitled to an
environment in which they are treated with fairness and respect by
their fellow workers. Among these workplace rights are:
* The right to equal and impartial treatment by other employees
regardless of race, sex, age, national origin, disability, religion;
* The right to be free from sexual harassment;
* The right to information about a plant or office closing. The
Plant Closing Act of 1988 requires employers to provide affected
employees with 60 days notification of a plant closing;
* The right to knowledge about workplace hazards ranging from
warnings about chemicals used in the company to necessary safety
precautions and simple guidelines for avoiding accidents.
Federal legislation protects employee rights, and it is the
responsibility of the employer to be informed regarding the
interpretation of these laws. Violations of workplace rights make
the employer liable to charges of discriminatory practices.
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