Do you know what your company legally can and can’t do? Experts say that a lot of us don’t. So, here are some truths about the workplace that you need to know:

  • It’s perfectly legal for your boss to be unfair, hostile or a plain old jerk! The only exception is if they’re nasty to you because of your race, gender, or religion. Then that’s grounds for discrimination and a lawsuit!
  • The First Amendment doesn’t give you the right to say whatever you want at work. It prevents the government from restricting your speech, not a business. An employer can fire you for what you say at work – or even post online at home.
  • HR is there to help the company – not you, the employee! Often, HR staffers DO help workers – because it’s in the best interest of the employer to keep great employees, deal with terrible managers, and prevent potential lawsuits. But ultimately they’ll probably side with your employer on most issues. And keep in mind that HR doesn’t have to keep anything you say confidential. So, if you trash your boss to HR, there’s a good chance they’ll share your sentiments with your boss.
  • Your boss can fire you for anything – even if they don’t like your haircut! Unless you have a contract, you’re an at-will employee. And you can be fired at any time, for any reason, without warning. The only exceptions? It’s illegal to be canned for things like your race, or religion.
  • There’s no such thing as a 9-to-5 job! Your company can require you to attend work-related events outside of work hours – like a weekend workshop. And not attending can be grounds for firing.
  • Salaries aren’t always fair. Co-workers doing the exact same job could be making much more. Maybe they were a better negotiator, or have a special degree or skill that your company values. Your best chance of getting a top salary is when you’re offered the job – that’s when you have the most leverage to point out how your experience and unique skills will make the company money.