Even though a person's life consists of much more than his or her job or career, employment does constitute an extremely important aspect of one's life. Employment not only provides income, which enables people to survive and enjoy life, but it also provides fulfillment in many situations. For these reasons, people often value their employment greatly. However, employees should not be exploited, face harassment or discrimination or be prevented from enjoying other aspects of their lives in an effort to maintain their employment. Federal and state laws protect a number of significant employee rights. One right that continues to be in forefront of public discussion is maternity leave.
As people continue to debate gender inequality in the workplace, one cannot avoid discussing the topic of maternity leave. Many people advocate for different or greater maternity leave policies in order to improve working conditions for women. The U.S. Navy may be taking steps to improve maternity leave for women. Recently the Navy Secretary introduced a proposal to extend paid maternity leave from six weeks to twelve weeks for women in the Navy. This proposal was one of several focused on females in the Navy and their quality of life. However, despite the support of the higher leadership for such a policy, extending paid maternity leave would require Congressional action. If successful, though, the Navy would become one of the institutions most supportive of new mothers in the United States.
Although maternity leave is one example of an employee right protected by law, there are many other employee rights, as well. Rights that are protected by federal or state laws include the right to be free from illegal workplace discrimination, the right to a harassment-free workplace, the right to medical leave, the right to safety at the workplace, and the right to be paid for the time worked.
When employees feel that their rights have been violated, they have recourse under the law. It is important for employees to understand which rights they enjoy, however, so that they know when their rights have been violated and can seek to enforce or protect them.
Source: Christian Science Monitor, "Is the US Navy leading the way on maternity leave?," Alexander LaCasse, May 13, 2015