Federal and state laws both protect workers in the United States, although there are occasional differences between the two. Here's an overview of employment issues in Utah.
From the moment a "help wanted" ad is first published, anti-discrimination laws apply. Companies can't list a preferred marital status or gender in the ad, nor can they rule out people with disabilities. During interviews, employers can't ask about an applicant's religious practices or whether they have children.
Utah's minimum wage is $7.25, the same as the federal minimum. However, workers younger than 18 can be paid $4.25 an hour during their first 90 days on the job. The minimum is $2.13 for tipped employees, provided that their tips bring them up to minimum wage. Workers must be paid 1.5 times their usual rate after they have worked beyond 40 hours each week.
Safe On The Job
Utah is one of a handful of states that is allowed to operate its own on-the-job safety program - that's because its laws are stronger than the federal system. The program concentrates on safety training, hazard prevention and worksite analysis. Workers can report safety problems and companies can't retaliate by demoting them, cutting their hours or firing them.
Most companies in Utah must carry workers' compensation insurance, which can be purchased either through the state or from a private insurer. The insurance covers lost wages and medical and rehabilitation payments for workers who are injured on the job. It is a no-fault system - the worker can't sue the company for injuries.
Holidays And Vacation Pay
Businesses in this state don't have to provide paid or unpaid vacation time or holidays. Companies that do must create policies that are nondiscriminatory. Companies are not required to offer paid sick leave, although the federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer unpaid leave under some circumstances. Employers don't have to pay workers for jury duty, and they can't force workers to use paid vacation or sick time in order to serve. Neither can they retaliate against employees who serve on juries.
If on-the-job harassment is so severe that a reasonable person would object, or if enduring the harassment is a condition of keeping the job, it's illegal and the victim can sue. Harassment is a federal issue, but in Utah, a separate agency also investigates these claims. Harassing comments include those based on gender, national origin, race, age or disability. They can include anything from offensive jokes to direct insults.
Learn more about sexual harassment in the workplace.
Utah is an "at will" employment state. As long as companies aren't discriminating against employees, they can let them go for any or no reason. Workers can also quit whenever they wish. Final wages must be paid within 24 hours of the end of employment.
Unless they're dismissed for cause, workers can draw unemployment if they're laid off, fired or if their hours are reduced. Under federal law, companies with more than 20 workers must let former workers continue their health insurance coverage, though workers must pay the full premiums.
Contact A Lawyer
This article provides only an overview of a complicated topic. If you need advice about a specific employment law issue, consult a local Utah labor lawyer.