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Myths About Your Rights in the Workplace

A few days ago I was reading info from U.S. News & World Report that was provided by Alison Green from the “Ask A Manager” blog.

They were detailing and debunking some pretty common myths that we all – me included – had about rights at work; things like asking about your family or religion in an interview or thinking that your boss has to have a justifiable reason for firing you.  A few interesting things here…

  • It’s NOT illegal for an interviewer to ask about your religion, origin, relationship status or family.  What IS illegal is hiring – or not hiring – someone based on those answers.
  • Former employers are allowed to tell future employers everything relevant to your performance, so long as it’s factually accurate.
  • You can’t sue a company because your boss is a general jerk.  It’s legal for them to be a total jerk.  You CAN sue if they are being a jerk based on your religion, gender, race, etc.
  • Your company CAN require you to attend work-related events outside of work hours. If you’re an hourly employee, you must be paid for the time required to take part in these things.
  • There is no “warning” required before you are fired.  This is true even if you’ve been praised for doing a great job right up until the day they terminate you.
  • Your boss does NOT have to have a justifiable reason to fire you.  You can be fired for any reason, so long as that reason isn’t because of race, religion, gender, etc.

See?  There were at least a few things there that I was wrong about (the interview questions and the reference check, for instance).  Hope this helps, whether you’re the employee or employer!

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