Employee rights constitute a large part of employment law. Right to work laws come into play when an employee seeks out a new job at a business or government agency. These laws allow a person to enter a position without having to join a union. These laws are often viewed with some controversy, but they are still favored by many employers and workers alike. The following is a short explanation of right to work laws as found in Utah Code Title 34, Chapter 34.
What do Right to Work Laws Do?
From a policy standpoint the intent behind right to work laws is twofold. First, the laws protect the wishes of employees who choose to reject union membership. These laws ensure that non-union employees do not suffer from discrimination.
The laws also help business owners to hire the employee of their choosing, and to reduce employment costs. Hiring a union employee can be expensive, and it can have a negative effect on a business's bottom line. Hence the existence or non-existence of these laws is an important consideration in business law.
Utah's Version of "Right to Work"
Utah's take on the law is that an employee cannot be treated any different based on their non-union status. A company or organization cannot demote an employee, deny career advancement opportunities or fire an employee who is not part of a union.
Employment and business laws make certain actions illegal in accordance with the right to work laws. Expanding upon the previous section, an employer and a union are prohibited from making union security agreements. These are special agreements between employers and unions that require all employees to enter the union upon hire. It is also illegal to provide union members with certain benefits that are not available to other employees. A non-union employee is also not required to pay union dues, and the unauthorized deduction of dues from your paycheck is illegal. Finally, it is a prohibited act for a union to compel or coerce an employee to join their organization.
Penalties for Violations
Employers and unions are subject to penalties when the violate the right to work laws. The most common penalty is an injunction issued by the court to stop the prohibited activity. An employee who suffers from a violation of this law may also sue for damages. Such damages will cover the financial loss associated with the loss of employment or job promotion.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is best to consult a business attorney who can explain aspects of the law you might not be familiar with. For example, a violation of Utah's right to work laws is a criminal, misdemeanor offense. This means that a separate offense can be charged for each day the violation occurs. The criminal penalties for this violation include a $2,500 fine per incident and up to a year in jail.
If you believe you have been denied employment or some type of workplace benefit, contact a business law attorney such as Gavin Jensen or Terry Spencer. The law firm of Spencer and Jensen, LLC is available to handle cases involving right to work violations. Contact the Sandy law office today at (801) 566-1884.