The holiday season is a time of festivities and cheer in the workplace. However, it can also be a time of unique employment law challenges. It is important for employees to be aware of their rights during the holiday season. In this blog, we’ll explore some key aspects of employment law during the holiday season to help you understand your rights during this festive time.
Holiday Pay and Overtime
During the holiday season, many employees may be asked to work overtime or on holidays. It’s essential to understand wage and hour laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which govern overtime pay. Your employer must pay employees overtime pay for any who employee who works more than forty (40) hours in a work week. However, employers are not required to pay employees an increased rate because the employee works on a holiday. Of course, some employers do offer holiday pay as a benefit or incentive to employees. If an employer fails to pay you the holiday incentive, employees can seek to recover that incentive or benefit.
Time Off Requests
It is common for employees to increase their time off requests during the holiday season so that they can spend time with their loved ones. When requesting time off, employees should make their request in accordance with company policy and as early as possible to increase their chances of getting the request granted. Employers should follow their time-off policy and grant employee’s requests fairly. If an employer denies an employee’s request based on religion, race, national origin, or any other protected characteristic, the employer likely has violated both federal and state law.
In addition to spending time with loved ones, employees may want time off to deal with the challenges of the holiday season. The holiday season can also be difficult for employees in having to deal with mental challenges that may come with the loss of a loved one. In those situations, eligible employees have the rights to take federally protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Many employees, including myself, often look forward to the employer’s end of the year holiday party. In many cases, holiday parties are considered a work event, and employers have a continued duty to ensure that employees are free from discrimination and harassment. When alcohol is present, managers and colleagues may feel emboldened to make offensive and discriminatory comments, or even a sexual advance. If you happen to experience this type of unwelcomed behavior, you should report the behavior as soon as possible, preferably in writing, then consult my office to discuss options. Holiday parties are meant to celebrate you and your employers’ successes and nothing else.
Employers have an obligation to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and practices. This includes allowing employees to take time off for religious observances and making reasonable accommodations for religious dress or dietary restrictions. This also means not forcing an employee to participate in certain traditional religious practices such as gift giving or placing a Christmas tree on someone’s desk who does not celebrate Christmas.
The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but, at the same time, employers are still required to follow the law. It is my hope that employees have a keen awareness of the laws that protect them during this holiday season. If you have further questions about your rights, please contact my office to schedule a consultation.