As an employee in Indiana, it's important that you understand your rights. Here are a few of the various federal and state laws that protect you at every employment stage from hiring to firing.
The Hiring Stage
Anti-discrimination laws require that employers only consider factors related to a person's ability to do the job that's being offered. This applies when employers are posting help wanted ads, when interviewing, and and when choosing between candidates. They may not consider or even ask about things like your marital status, age, nationality or sexual orientation.
Wage and Overtime Laws
Federal law sets a minimum wage that employers must pay most workers in almost every industry. It also requires that employers pay overtime at the rate of 1.5 times base pay to employees who work more than forty hours in a week. Indiana law largely mirrors the federal guidelines and applies to all companies with at least two employees.
Safe Working Conditions
You have a right to work in an environment that's not likely to endanger your life or your health. You are also entitled to report unsafe conditions without your employer punishing you for doing so.
Work-Related Injury or Illness
If you're injured or become ill as a result of your job, you're probably entitled to workers' compensation benefits. With few exceptions, all businesses must carry this type of insurance to cover their employees. The insurance pays medical and income benefits to covered workers.
Family Medical Leave
Federal law requires that most employers with at least 50 employees provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for employees who must deal with their own serious illness, care for an ill family member, or care for a new child. Indiana also has a military family leave law that provides up to 10 days leave for certain reasons related to a family member's military service.
Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal or physical actions that are serious enough and pervasive enough to cause a hostile environment. The harassment doesn't have to be sexual in nature. Attacking a person's race, gender or nationality is also harassment. Behavior by a supervisor that has a negative effect on a person's employment, such as a demotion, is also considered harassment.
Leaving Your Job
Like most states, Indiana is an at-will employment state. This means that your employer may fire you for any almost any reason. Limits on this right exist, however. They can't fire you for reasons that violate anti-discrimination laws, such as your gender or age. Having a contract may also limit their ability to fire you. When you leave, you're entitled to your final paycheck. This may include any accrued but unused vacation time, subject to any conditions in company policy.
Unemployment and COBRA Benefits
Unemployment benefits are available to most people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. For the most part, you must meet minimum wage and/or time worked requirements to qualify.
COBRA is a federal program that requires employers with at least 20 employees to allow them to continue group health plan coverage for a certain period of time after leaving the company.
Getting Legal Advice
This article provides only general legal information about some areas of employment law. For advice about your unique situation, contact an Indiana employment lawyer.