Boeing Worker
Boeing employee Mike Laeuger is seen working on Boeing 737 MAX during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington Dec. 7, 2015. Reuters

When it comes to workplace rights, many American workers might be unaware of what's been afforded to them by the federal government. The rights of employees have remained a provocative issue dating all the way back to the Industrial Revolution and into the rise of the Industrial Workers of the World movement near the start of the 20th Century.

Long gone are the days of "The Jungle," the 1906 muckracking novel by Upton Sinclair which told the story of harsh U.S. working conditions—kids working in factories, sexual harassment without consequence and accidents in slaughterhouses resulting in lost limbs.

But there is still a great deal to know about employee rights and the themes from "The Jungle" are still pertinent in 2017.

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Right To Privacy

In most states, employees have a right to privacy in the workplace but that doesn’t necessarily mean privacy for everything. While this generally covers an employee’s personal possessions, such as a purse or a briefcase, it doesn’t apply to electronics. If you’re using your employer’s internet or computer system, then your employer can check just about anything you send or type — emails, instant messages or those Facebook messages that you probably shouldn’t be writing in the middle of the day anyway.

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Right To Safe Workplace Free Of Dangerous Conditions

This means working on machines that are safe, wearing all of the required safety gear, being protected from toxic chemicals and being able to review records of work-related injuries and illnesses, among other things. You can find all you need to know about this right on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website.

Right To Be Free From Retaliation For Filing A Claim Or Complaint Against An Employer

In other words, if you find that your employer is violating any of your rights, you should be able to report it without being afraid that your boss will try to take some sort of revenge.

Right To Receive Fair Wages For Work Performed

This is the reason that the federal government has a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, although that’s a lot more in many states.

The federal government doesn't limit the number of hours people ages 16 and older can work, but the law requires that employers must pay workers for overtime work. However, 14- and 15-year-olds are limited to working 18 hours a week in a school week and 40 hours per week in a non-school week if they have a work permit.

Right To Be Free Of Discrimination

Due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot discriminate against you based on your race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Workers are also protected from gender-based discrimination (women are not legally allowed to be paid less than men for the same amount of work, although this doesn’t always pan out in practice), discrimination based on age, or discrimination based on disability.