Employment laws protect employees at all stages of the work process from hire to fire. This field of law includes both federal and state rules. Here are some points to consider as a Delaware employee.
Help wanted ads, interviews and hiring decisions can not be discriminatory. Employers can not consider such issues as race, age, gender, color, pregnancy, religion or disability when interviewing potential employees and making hiring decisions. Some interview questions are illegal, such as whether you're pregnant, whether you attend church or the denomination of the church, and whether you have any disabilities.
Minimum Wage and Overtime
Federal law sets U.S. minimum wage and overtime rules that cover most, but not all, employees. States can establish their own minimum wage and overtime laws as well, and these sometimes provide greater protection than federal rules. Delaware's laws are the same as federal laws.
Employers must provide a safe work environment for employees. Employers can't fire employees who report unsafe working conditions, such as those involving pollutants, faulty equipment, lack of safety devices, exposure, contamination, and similar concerns.
Workers’ compensation is a system of insurance that provides replacement income and medical protection to employees who are injured on the job or who contract an occupational disease in the course of employment. In exchange, employees must relinquish their rights to sue the employer for personal injuries. Workers’ compensation provides qualified, eligible employees with benefits such as medical treatment and partial income replacement benefits. These can include temporary disability payments or compensation for a permanent impairment until the worker can return to work or until he achieves maximum medical improvement. Employers with one or more employees are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Farm workers and independent contractors are exempt from coverage.
Some types of leave are covered by federal law, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act. Delaware does not have specific laws that require employers to provide workers with paid time off to vote. However, check with the human resources department or management at your company to confirm its policy.
All forms of harassment are unlawful under federal law. Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on race, sex, color, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin, retaliation or disability. Conduct rises to the level of harassment when it's severe enough to create a hostile work environment or when a supervisor’s conduct creates a measured change in an employee’s status or benefits. Harassment includes, but isn't limited to, sexual harassment.
Like most states, Delaware offers “at will” employment. Unless a contract exists that states otherwise, either party can terminate the employment relationship for almost any reason or no reason at all. However, employers can't terminate workers for unlawful or discriminatory reasons such as those based on age, gender, race, national origin or disability. They can't fire an employee because he filed a workers’ compensation claim, demanded proper wages or overtime pay, took time off for medical reasons or to care for family, for being a whistleblower, or for doing anything protected by law. Delaware doesn't have a law requiring that unused vacation time or leave pay must be included in fired or resigning employees’ final paychecks.
Learn more about "at will' employment on Lawyers.com.
After employment ends, employees might be eligible for continued benefits, such as unemployment insurance and COBRA. Some very small companies may be exempt from these rules.
Ask a Labor and Employment Lawyer for Help
Employment law is complicated. If you have questions about your work situation, speak with a Delaware labor and employment lawyer.