Second only to the human cost of the coronavirus pandemic is the economic cost.
The economic news has been very grim as of late, with another 4.4 million Americans filing for unemployment insurance last week according to the US Department of Labor. Jobless claims over the past five weeks have totaled more than 26 million, leading to speculation that the jobless rate could be a staggering 23%.
With nearly a quarter of the total labor force facing unemployment it makes sense that many workers feel they are blessed or lucky just to have a job right now. Gratitude is a good thing but being thankful for what you have does not mean you must forego the rights and protections you have as an employee.
Recessions are a dangerous time for workers as they may feel like they are always walking on eggshells. Unscrupulous employers take advantage of this, pushing the envelope and cutting corners in ways they would not attempt during an economic boom where employees are perceived to have more options.
You still have the full rights and protections provided by anti-discrimination laws, The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other state and federal employment laws.
Potential violations to watch out for during these trying times include:
- Sexual harassment
- Supervisors pressuring you to work off the clock
- Overtime hours paid at your regular hourly rate
- Pressure to forego vacation or medical leave
- Fraud and related retaliation against whistleblowers
As always, your best course of action when you encounter such activity is to seek the advice of a knowledgeable employment lawyer who can examine your situation and take action to protect your rights.