What should I know about basic job rights in Georgia?
Contract and statutory job rights in Georgia
- What kinds of rights do workers have in Georgia?
- What are contract rights for workers in Georgia?
- What are statutory rights for workers in Georgia?
What kinds of rights do workers have in Georgia?
As an employee, you have rights. Those rights are either:
Given by your employer through a contract,
You have rights regardless of whether the contract is oral or written. You have them whether it is an individual contract with the employer or a union contract.
Through state or federal statute.
You have the rights given by the laws of the United States and state of Georgia.
If the statutory law or the contract provides for a right, then an employee has that right. Otherwise, the right does not exist in Georgia.
What are contract rights for workers in Georgia?
Employment contracts are usually oral (that is, spoken). The employer says, "You're hired." You, as the employee, say, "I accept." Be sure, though, that you understand all of the terms of the contract before you agree. An employer's policy manual may define employee rights and duties when there isn’t a written contract.
Written contracts occur in two general areas:
1. If there is a union, then the union and the company have a written contract. This is called a collective bargaining agreement. It will govern the wages, hours, and conditions of employment. Most of the information about the job will be in the agreement.
2. Written contracts are also common in the "personal services" area, like:
Sales jobs, and
These contracts should be read carefully. If you are confused, you should talk to a lawyer to explain the contract.
Contracts are enforceable in a court of law. An employee or an employer can become involved in a lawsuit if he or she is not careful to respect the rights, terms, and conditions that are spelled out in a contract. The types of rights generally given by contract include:
Neither federal nor state law requires employers to provide vacations, breaks, or pensions. Nor do statutes require them to provide health insurance or paid sick leave. If your employer has no vacation policy, then you do not have the right to a vacation.
If your employer-employee contract does not give paid sick leave, then you are not entitled to be paid for those days you are sick and cannot work. Most employers give these benefits, however, because they could not keep employees if they did not.
Whatever contract rights an employer gives, the law says that those benefits must be given without discrimination.
What are statutory rights for workers in Georgia?
Not all rights and benefits for employees depend on contracts. Some are provided by state and federal laws. These include:
Your rights to minimum wage and overtime an employer can pay you,
Your right to equal pay for the same work,
Your right to not be discriminated against or harassed at work,
Your right to join a labor union,
Your right to a safe workplace.
If your statutory rights are violated, you have a right to file a complaint. You are responsible for following the rules for filing a complaint, including filing it within the correct period of time.
How can I enforce my contract rights?
Georgia is an at-will employment state. This means that an employer can fire you for any reason as long as that reason is not illegal. However, it is illegal to violate the terms of a contract.
To enforce contract rights, you generally will have to go through the court system. In general, you will need to sue your employer for breach of contract. You can hope to get any damages you suffered (i.e. money you lost) as a result of the breach. Contract law is complicated and you should consult an attorney before you file a lawsuit.
How can I enforce my statutory rights?
Each law has its own rules for filing a complaint. Learn about how to enforce your rights if your employer:
Does not pay you the wages you are owed,
Pays you less than someone else for the same work,
Discriminates against you or harasses you at work,
Interferes with your right to join a labor union,
Creates an unsafe workplace.
- Read more about who is covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act on the Department of Labor website.
- Learn more about workplace harassment laws on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.
- Learn more about workplace safety standards on the OSHA website.
- Read about employment laws and rules on the Georgia Department of Labor website.