In a perfect world, we would all feel comfortable leaving our health and safety in the hands of our employers. Unfortunately, all across the country, Americans are left to fend for themselves after shady business practices and corporate negligence. Even if you feel as if you work for a great company that would never take advantage of you or allow you to suffer—it’s still important that you know your rights, and how to protect yourself in the event of an emergency. Here’s how to protect yourself from your employer:

Always Make a Formal Complaint

If something bothers you about another employee or manager, it’s critical that you always make a formal complaint. Even if nothing comes out of it, you still want your concern/complaint on record for future reference. For example, in many work-related sexual harassment cases, employees tend to let incidents go without filing a report with human resources. If the situation gets bigger, it becomes more difficult to fight your case if you failed to bring it to anyone’s attention. This is exactly what happened to many employees at the toxic work culture over at Uber. Documenting the issue ensures your personal safety.

Injured? Don’t Be Afraid to File a Claim

If you’ve been injured on the job, don’t be afraid to file a claim. No matter where you are in the state, employers are required to provide you with a healthy and safe work environment. Filing for workers comp is a legal right, and the ability to return to your job after you’ve recovered from an accident is also a legal allowance on the employer’s end.

“Sometimes, your employer won’t look out for your best interests, and legal action is necessary,” says Schwartzapfel, a team of New York wrongful death lawyers. “If you feel as though negligence was the reason you were hurt on the job, for example, you’re entitled to financial compensation. Don’t allow anyone to bully you into forgetting your rights as an American worker.”

Set Boundaries & Communicate

Communication goes a long way. Bad bosses and managers are able to get away with many things because employees don’t speak up. If something your boss does—like the way they handle conflict, speak to you, etc—bothers you, let them know. If you work for a corporate company, consider calling them to report the incident (especially if you’ve been involved with a dispute with them more than once).

Speaking up isn’t always easy, and of course, doesn’t always solve situations immediately. But saying how you feel is a great first step towards getting your voice heard and making a difference in your work life.

Know Your Rights

In every state, there are labor laws that each employee needs to know about. After all, federal and state laws are in place to protect employees—but if an employee doesn’t know about them, they could be losing and getting hurt. For example, the Family Medical Leave Act protects your job and allows you to take care of a sick family member while you are out. Employees who don’t know about this Act could feel pressured into quitting their positions to care for a loved one.

There are also many labor laws on the breaks you are required to take while working certain shifts, and the amount of hours/days you are legally allows to work before you are required to take the day off. If you find that you’re overworking and feeling overstressed to the point where you aren’t taking time out of your day to eat, you should look into local labor laws and pinpoint which are applicable to you.

Blocking the Micromanager

If you have a boss who micromanages, there are ways you can protect your own sanity. The fact is, some bosses are not only micromanagers, but don’t even realize that they have micromanaging leadership style. And yet, micromanagement is one of the most toxic traits of a bad workplace culture. Go out of your way to try to understand your boss and why what you can do to help alleviate some of their stress.

Before you begin a project, talk to them about how they will be involved in the process, and set up guidelines and ideas that will help steer the project in the right direction. For example, perhaps you agree to send a status update on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This could help prevent your superior from needing to come over to your desk and send emails often. You should also use your own project management software to keep yourself on track.

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