Essential legal rights every working women should be aware of

Women make up nearly half the population, yet studies show they often face unique challenges, whether it is working in a company or a household.

This is especially relevant in bustling cities like Los Angeles, where women handle a demanding work environment while striving for equality. 

A 2022 Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings revealed that women still earn, on average, 82% of what men earn. And that’s unfair! 

But knowledge is power, and understanding your legal rights is the first step toward a fairer, safer, and more equitable work environment. So, let’s delve in and know more!

Right to a safe workplace and compensation for injuries

Every employee has the fundamental right to a safe and healthy workplace. This right is protected by several federal and state laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, which created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set and enforce safety standards across various industries.

What if you get injured at your workplace?

Here are the first steps you need to take if you’re injured on the job:

  • Report the injury: Report your injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. There are often strict deadlines for reporting, and failing to do so could jeopardize your right to compensation.
  • Seek medical attention: Get prompt medical attention for your injury or illness, even if you don’t think it’s serious. 
  • File a workers’ compensation claim: Your employer should provide you with information and forms to file a workers’ compensation claim. 
  • Know your rights: You have the right to receive benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with your injury or illness. 

So, if you are working in Los Angeles and have experienced a workplace injury and need assistance navigating the legal complexities, seeking guidance from a Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorney can be invaluable. An attorney can help guide you through the complicated process of getting compensation. This ensures your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve.

Remember, maintaining a safe workplace is a shared responsibility of both employers and employees. If you encounter unsafe conditions, report them promptly. 

Right to equal pay

Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental right in the United States, guaranteed by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and other federal and state laws. This legislation requires employers to pay men and women equally for jobs that require similar skills, effort, and responsibility and are performed under comparable working conditions.

This highlights the persistent gender pay gap. However, knowing your right to equal pay empowers you to negotiate fair compensation. If you suspect unfair pay, gather evidence, such as salary information for colleagues in similar roles, and raise the issue with your employer or human resources department.

If the issue remains unresolved, remember that legal remedies are available. You can file a complaint or even pursue a lawsuit against your employer. By advocating for yourself, you’re not only securing fair compensation but also contributing to a more equitable workplace for all women.

Right against workplace harassment

Every woman has the right to a workplace free from harassment. However, harassment based on protected characteristics like sex, race, age, religion, disability, and national origin is considered a form of discrimination. It is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

If you face harassment, report it immediately to your supervisor or HR department. Keep detailed records of each incident, including dates, times, actions, words, and witnesses. If internal resolution fails, file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may also have legal options, so consult an attorney. Remember, organizations like the National Sexual Assault Hotline and Equal Rights Advocates offer support and resources. You are not alone, and you have the right to a safe and respectful workplace.

Maternity benefits for women

Maternity leave benefits can vary state-wise. Federally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can offer eligible employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth and bonding with a new child. These programs provide a portion of an employee’s wages for a set period, allowing for bonding and recovery. However, not all employees qualify, and the leave is unpaid.

It’s crucial to understand your specific rights. Research your state’s laws and your company’s policies regarding maternity leave. Some companies may offer additional paid leave or flexibility. If you’re pregnant or planning to become a parent, discuss your leave options with your employer early on. This ensures you have the time and resources needed to welcome your new family member while protecting your job security.

You need to know your rights

Empowerment comes from knowing your rights. By understanding the laws protecting you, you can confidently navigate your career, demand fair treatment, and create a more equitable workplace. 

Remember, your voice matters, and you have the right to a safe, respectful, and rewarding professional life. Don’t hesitate to seek support and advocate for your rights – your career and well-being depend on it.