From before they're hired to after they leave, workers in the United States are protected by state and federal laws. Here's an overview of employment issues in Arizona.
Hiring in Arizona
In all states, laws that prohibit discrimination come into play as soon as the job is advertised. Employers can't say they'd prefer a woman or someone without children for a job opening. The same laws apply during job interviews; employers can't ask an applicant about marriage status or age, unless age is a legal factor such as it is for bartender positions.
Arizona's minimum wage is $7.80 an hour for most employees, as of January 2013. It's $4.80 for workers who receive tips, though employers must make up the difference if workers bring in less than the minimum wage after tips. Non-salaried workers fall under federal law that requires time-and-a-half pay for more than 40 hours worked each week.
Safety at Work
Companies must keep workers safe and job sites free from known hazards. Occupational safety laws cover everything from protection from dangerous chemicals to safety within buildings or on the grounds. Employers can't retaliate by firing or demoting workers who report problems.
In Arizona, the workers' compensation program for those injured on the job is a "no fault" insurance system that requires treatment and compensation no matter who caused the injury. All companies are required to carry this coverage. How long workers are paid under workers' compensation depends on the severity of the injury, and the amount is based on their earnings at the time of the injury. Find out more about workers' compensation FAQs.
Employers don't have to provide vacation or paid holidays, though many offer them as benefits. Beyond a federal law requiring companies with 50 or more employees to offer unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), sick leave is not required. Arizonans are not eligible for paid time off for jury duty, but they can not be fired or demoted if they serve on a jury.
Under federal law, harassment—unwelcome conduct based on color, national origin, religion, age, gender, race, or disability—is illegal. A worker can sue if the harassment is offensive enough that a reasonable person would object.
Arizona is an "at will" state, which means that if there is no contract in place, the worker can quit for any reason or the employer can let the worker go for any nondiscriminatory reason. Employees who are terminated must receive their final checks within three days or on the next regular payday, whichever comes first. Employees who quit must receive their final checks on the next payday.
Benefits After You Leave
Workers can collect unemployment insurance unless they voluntarily quit a job or are fired for misconduct. The amount paid depends on the workers' wages and how much they worked in the previous four quarters. Former workers at companies with more than 20 employees can continue their employer's health insurance coverage for a limited time under the federal COBRA law, but they'll have to pay the full amount of the premium.
Contact an Employment Lawyer in Arizona
Employment law is a complicated issue, and this article is intended only as an overview. For specific questions, consult an Arizona employment lawyer for advice.