January is an excellent time to reconsider your employment. The stress of the holidays and end-of-year deadlines often gives workers and employers tunnel vision, leaving entire industries focused on getting through the day. However, now that the new year is underway, these pressures have let up, and you may have more time to consider your needs. For example, you may want to consider employment trends and determine whether you’re being treated fairly at work.
Fair treatment is at the heart of many employment trends as we move into 2023. If you’re wondering what to expect from the labor market in 2023, consider whether the following trends may impact your workplace. You might be at risk of unlawful, adverse employment action if they are.
Complex economic conditions have made unions more popular than they’ve been in more than 50 years. Gallup found that approval for unions is at 71% nationwide, the highest it’s been since 1965, just a year after the Civil Rights Act was passed.
While the number of workers nationwide who are part of a union is still low, at 10.3%, organizers are working to change this. According to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, the number of unions formed in the past year is the highest in 20 years. Employees at companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks are organizing to demand better compensation as inflation and profits soar while wages stagnate.
While this is likely good news for workers in the long run, it puts some employees in precarious positions today. Corporations are well-known for being anti-union since paying workers more cuts into their record-breaking profits and C-suite compensation. If people in your workplace are considering unionization, you must watch out for retaliatory actions like wrongful termination.
Employers who want to nip unions in the bud will often attempt things like firing organizers or even closing entire locations to send a message. However, this is directly prohibited by the National Labor Relations Board. You may have grounds to take legal action if you believe you have been fired or had your hours cut due to unionization efforts.
Push Towards Hybrid Work
After several years where remote work suddenly became the norm, some employers are starting to push workers to return to the office at least part-time. This setup, where workers spend some days at home and others on-site, is known as hybrid work. It allows employees to save time and money on commutes while still getting everyone in the office to collaborate regularly.
Hybrid work has many benefits, but it is not the only solution. In fact, some employers who push for a return to the office may be breaking the law.
Take Twitter, for example. The company spent multiple years permitting employees to work remotely during the pandemic. However, after Elon Musk took it private, the company suddenly demanded all employees return to the office full-time or be terminated. This may have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Requiring all employees to work from the office when it has been demonstrated that their jobs can be done at home may violate disabled workers’ rights to reasonable accommodations. Working from home is significantly easier for many disabled people, and it costs the company little. If your employer is similarly trying to force you to return to in-person work when it would harm your health, you may want to consult with an experienced employment attorney.
Surveillance of Employees
Changing workplace environments and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) have led to an alarming trend among many employers. Many companies have taken the reasonable desire to monitor employee output and conduct a step too far. These employers are doing more than just tracking employees’ hours, use of company equipment, or interactions with customers. Some are going so far as to monitor employees’ biometric data and behavior during their off-hours without their consent.
This is a new legal frontier, and states are responding to it at different rates. Depending on where you live, it may or may not be illegal for your employer to track specific behavior. Examples of legislation addressing these workers’ rights concerns include:
- Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA): This bill requires employers to notify workers and request consent before collecting and using their biometric data.
- California’s Digital License Plate restrictions: The law prevents employers from using GPS tracking devices to collect information on employee movement when using fleet vehicles outside work hours.
In addition, existing wiretapping laws bar employers from gathering information from their employees’ private phones and devices without consent. This means that it’s illegal in most states for your employer to require you to install programs on your devices that track your communications without informing you and receiving your consent. However, employers may still unlawfully track you without your knowledge by hiding information about what data they collect behind multiple menus or simply not disclosing that they collect data at all.
If you have concerns about your employer violating your privacy without your permission, you may benefit from consulting with a skilled employment law attorney.
Make the New Year Better by Consulting With Proven Attorneys
You have the rights to organize, to receive reasonable accommodations, and to maintain your privacy. However, trends across many industries may lead your employer to violate these rights. If you believe your employer has wrongfully terminated you, refused you accommodations, or tracked you without your consent, you could have grounds to file an employment law claim. Don’t hesitate to get help. At the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C., our proven attorneys help employees like you defend your rights in the workplace every day. Learn more about how we can help you stand up for yourself as your employers react to these workplace trends.