Workers' Rights in the U.S. 

Labor rights or workers' rights are both legal rights and human rights relating to labor relations between workers and employers.

These rights are written into national and international labor law. In general, these rights influence working conditions in the relations of employment. Understanding your rights as an employee is crucial to ensure fair treatment, safe working conditions, and appropriate compensation.  

In the United States, there are several laws and regulations in place to protect workers' rights. Here is an overview of the main laws that new employees should know and understand, as well as specific worker rights for immigrants. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 

The FLSA establishes the federal minimum wage, overtime pay, record-keeping, and child labor standards for both full-time and part-time workers. Key pieces of the FLSA include: 

  • Minimum Wage: The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (as of September 2021). However, some states and localities have higher minimum wage rates. Employees must be paid at least the higher of the federal or state minimum wage. 
  • Overtime Pay: Non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for every hour worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek. 
  • Child Labor: The FLSA sets limits on the hours and types of work that minors (under 18 years old) can perform. These rules help protect young workers from dangerous jobs and ensure they have enough time for school. 

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 

OSHA ensures safe and healthy working conditions for employees in the United States. Key pieces include: 

  • Workplace Safety: Employers must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. They should also comply with OSHA standards and regulations related to specific industries. 
  • Reporting Hazards: Employees have the right to report unsafe working conditions to OSHA without fear of retaliation from their employers. 
  • Whistleblower Protection: OSHA protects employees who raise concerns about safety violations or illegal activities in the workplace from retaliation. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Key pieces include: 

  • Equal Employment Opportunity: Employers cannot discriminate in hiring, firing, promotions, or other employment decisions based on protected characteristics, such as those listed above. 
  • Harassment: Employers must maintain a workplace free from sexual harassment or other forms of discriminatory harassment. 

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 

The FMLA provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. Key parts include: 

  • Eligibility: Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and work for an employer with 50 or more employees are generally eligible for FMLA leave. 
  • Leave Reasons: FMLA allows employees to take leave for their own serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or for qualifying military family leave. 

Worker Rights for Immigrants 

Immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to certain rights and protections in the workplace. Key considerations include: 

  • Immigration Status: In most cases, employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their immigration status. Immigrants have the right to be free from workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. 
  • Wage and Hour Protections: Immigrant workers, including undocumented workers, are entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay, and other wage-related protections under the FLSA. 
  • Workplace Safety: Immigrant workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace under OSHA regulations. 
  • Whistleblower Protection: Immigrant workers who report violations of labor laws or unsafe working conditions are protected from retaliation. 

Understanding your rights as an employee is essential to ensure fair treatment and a safe work environment. Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations mentioned in this guide to protect your rights and seek assistance from relevant government agencies or legal professionals if needed. 


The information provided on is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be considered as professional advice or a substitute for seeking professional guidance.

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