18 Things Your Boss Is Not Allowed To Do

No one wants to deal with a bad boss, but we’ve all had them. Sometimes they are just annoying, and other times what they are doing is actually illegal. Here are 18 things your boss is not legally allowed to do in the United States.

Discriminate Against Protected Characteristics

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According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers cannot discriminate based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, etc. If it happens, report the incident to your higher-ups, HR, or the EEOC when necessary.

Retaliate Against Whistleblowing

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“Speaking up against discrimination and harassment is a protected activity, and if any negative action follows, the burden of proof will fall on the employer to show that they were not behaving in a retaliatory manner,” says Walker Advertising’s Vice President of People, Kimberly Williams. Whistleblowing happens when an employee reports something illegal, dangerous, or discriminatory to an outside source. Simply having an unpleasant boss isn’t sufficient to trigger legal protections.

Withhold Wages or Overtime Pay

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The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay nonexempt employees overtime pay when they exceed 40 hours of work in a single workweek. Alaska, California, and Nevada require overtime pay for those working more than eight hours per day. Employers can also not withhold your wages for any reason.

Wrongful Termination

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Firing an employee for illegal reasons, such as discrimination or retaliation, is prohibited. Reprimanding employees for engaging in protected actions, such as filing complaints or actively taking part in union activities, is illegal. If this occurs, an employee can file a complaint or even sue. Suddenly filing several complaints against an employee immediately before terminating them is called papering and is also illegal.

Ask Prohibited Questions on Job Applications

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The EEOC enforces laws that prohibit a dozen different types of discrimination, and employers can’t use those factors in hiring decisions or even ask about them during the interview process. A job application can’t ask for your age, marital status, religion, or plans to become pregnant.

Require Broad Noncompete Agreements

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Overly restrictive noncompete agreements may be illegal. Noncompete agreements generally stipulate that employees can’t work for a competitor for a certain period after leaving a company, and they can’t be so broad as to make it impossible for someone to find a job in their field. Specifying a distance from the former employer often helps so that a former employee is not completely unable to find work in their field.

Forbid Salary Discussions

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Employees have the right to discuss their salaries with coworkers, even though your boss may not want you and your coworkers to compare your salary or benefits. Trying to quash these discussions, either in person or online, can be seen as an illegal attempt to prevent workers from organizing or unionizing.

Pay Less Than the Minimum Wage

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Employers must pay at least the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour, according to Paycom. Many states and even some cities have higher requirements. Employers can’t get around paying the minimum wage by paying with tips or commissions, except for restaurant servers and bartenders, for the most part.

Classify Employees Incorrectly

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Independent contractors can help companies keep costs down because they do not have to pay benefits and some employment taxes. Some companies will hire people as independent contractors while treating them as employees, which is illegal. If a company dictates when and how you work, you’re an employee, not an independent contractor.

Retaliate for Filing Workers’ Compensation Claims

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If you get injured on the job, it can be nerve-wracking trying to decide if you should file a workers’ compensation claim. Rest assured, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate or let you go for filing the claim.

Create a Hostile Work Environment

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A hostile work environment is defined as one where an individual (or group of individuals) is subject to unwanted sexual advances, discrimination, offensive comments, bullying based on protected status or activity, or other similar actions that create an intimidating and oppressive atmosphere, according to Wenzel Fenton Cabassa. When going to work causes excessive anxiety and even fear, it is time to consider whether the environment is hostile or just not meant for you.

Violate Privacy Rights

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Employees have a right to privacy in certain areas, like bathrooms or personal storage. Employers are also only allowed to put monitors on your computer or cameras with your prior knowledge. You should expect a reasonable amount of privacy when you are at work.

Deny Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities

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Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, thanks to the  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A wide variety of reasonable accommodations have been a true game-changer in helping individuals achieve competitive employment. Just a few examples are screen readers, testing materials in alternative formats, wheelchair ramps, and alternative computer keyboards.

Ask Employees to Work Off the Clock

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Nonexempt employees who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act can’t be asked to do work off the clock. Moreover, employers should be wary of any request to be paid in cash or off the books. Employers can get in trouble for failing to withhold payroll taxes, and they could also be liable for other penalties if the employee files a complaint saying they weren’t properly compensated.

Ignore Exemptions to Vaccination Mandates

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Employers must consider exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Employers have a long history of requiring workers to have certain vaccinations. However, while mandating vaccination is not illegal for most workers, it can violate the law if exemptions are not allowed for medical reasons or deeply held religious beliefs.

Discipline for Complaining About Work on Social Media

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Under the NLRA, employees are given wide freedom to talk about their employers publicly, including on social media. Trying to curtail worker communications can be seen as an illegal attempt to prevent them from unionizing or organizing. Still, employees shouldn’t feel emboldened to say anything they want online. Threats of violence, harassing behavior, and maliciously false statements could be grounds for discipline or dismissal from a job.

Promise a Job to an Unpaid Intern

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Companies may want to incentivize interns with the promise of a paying job at the end of the internship. However, doing so could put an employer in violation of federal and state minimum wage laws. Instead of being a learning experience for a student, the internship could be viewed as an unpaid training period, which is illegal.

Engage in Sexual Harassment

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There are two main types of sexual harassment in the workplace. Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that translates to “this for that.” It occurs when a supervisor makes requests for sexual favors in exchange for a job benefit. In a hostile work environment, sexual harassment is much more common. This generally requires more than isolated incidents or casual jokes. Typically, the behavior is so severe and pervasive that it affects the dignity and comfort of the victim. Sexual harassment outside of work counts as well.

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17 Fairy Tales That Are Now Considered Racist

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While fairy tales weave magical narratives that span generations, many emerge from historical and cultural contexts tinged with biases. Hiding in many of these tales, racial undertones can be found. Let’s look at 17 fairy tales that have deeper implications.

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17 Things Society Can No Longer Do Because Gen Z Said So

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