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Five Things You Need to Know If It’s Your First Time in the Workforce

The start of your first job is one of the most exciting times in your life, but it can also be intimidating. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done to prepare or how qualified you are for the job, there’s still a lot that can go wrong.

Those who are new to the workforce are especially vulnerable because they might not know the ins and outs of the professional world. It’s easy to feel intimidated when you’re the new guy or girl in a business, but this doesn’t mean you don’t have the same employment law rights that everyone else has.

What are five of the most important things you need to know if you are just entering the workforce?

1. Sexual Harassment is Illegal

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, regardless of the position you hold in a company. The law protects you from sexual advances and being put into a position where you feel pressured into sexual behavior. Sexual harassment laws pertain to anything from inappropriate jokes or comments to propositioning you for sex or making sexual behavior a condition of your employment.

If anyone says or does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or that you believe might cross a line, you should report it immediately.

2. You Have Protection against Discrimination

In addition to sexual harassment, you are also protected from discrimination. Discrimination laws pertain to certain protected classes, including race, national origin, age, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability, religion, and pregnancy. If you are mistreated in the workplace based on any of these factors it is within your rights to take legal action.

3. Your Right to Privacy Might Not Be What You Think It Is

There’s a lot to learn when you are new to the workforce and unfortunately, a great deal of it is a rude awakening. One of the most important things to understand is that your employer can monitor your behavior while on the job. This means your emails, your social media activity, and even your conversations with other employees might be monitored. Don’t be surprised if your boss knows more than you think he or she knows about what you say and do during work hours.

To learn more about what’s acceptable and not acceptable regarding social media in the workplace, check out this information from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision.

4. Human Resources is there to Protect You – But Might Not Be Enough

Your company’s human resources or HR department is there to help you with difficult situations. The department is usually your first contact when you begin working for a company and they should be there to help you with questions pertaining to your employment. If you are a victim of harassment or discrimination you need to report it to HR.

Chances are there is a system in place for dealing with what happens to you, but what HR does is not always enough to solve a problem in the workplace. Human resources is there for support, but they are not there to act as a parent or police officer. It’s important to report your concerns to HR, but if you are still experiencing discrimination or you believe not enough was done to resolve the problem, it’s within your rights to escalate your concerns.

5. You are Entitled to a Safe Workplace

If you expect to be coddled in the workplace, chances are you’ll be disappointed by your first job. However, even if your work is tough and the expectations are higher than you’ve faced in the past, you still have a right to a safe workplace. If you believe your employer is putting your safety at risk, you can report the problem to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Your first job is a great opportunity to gain experience and “pay your dues,” so you can one day enjoy the advantages associated with being an experienced employee. However, even if you don’t have the cushy position you hope to one day achieve, you do have a right to be free from discrimination, harassment, and risks to your safety.

For more information or to speak to someone about a potential problem in your workplace, contact the New York Employment Lawyers at Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to discuss your situation.


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