Employment exploitation or labor exploitation refers to situations where an employee, either voluntarily or through some form of coercion, is working in sub-par conditions or has their wages being held for work that’s being completed. In more extreme cases, exploitation will also include instances with the recurrent use of deception, force, or blackmail from employers.

Unfortunately, there are some ways for exploitation to be legal. It becomes illegal when an employee oversteps the protections offered to workers. We’ll cover the basic aspects of what can be constituted as employee exploitation by expert workplace harassment lawyers and what you should do in either situation.

Man in suit screaming

How Does Exploitation Occur?

You might be tempted to think that anyone in these situations should just leave, or they would then be responsible for their own exploitation. However, things are usually not that simple. Employees can be dependent on their jobs for a number of reasons. Their financial security rest in the hands of their employer. They may be dependent on work benefits like healthcare. They may even attach their self-esteem to having a job and don’t want to lose it. All of these factors can result in some form of exploitation occurring.

What Can Be Considered Exploitation?

Exploitation can be conducted in a number of ways by employers. One of the most common types is overworking employees. This can happen in varying degrees of intensity, but on average, about 80% of American employees are overworked in some capacity. This is especially true for worker positions, as management positions don’t report as many hours in overtime.

Other forms of workplace exploitation can include holding back benefits, regular delays in salary disbursement, denying any form of compensation, and exploiting based on employee appearance. Harassment of any form also falls under an extreme form of exploitation.

Frustrated Woman in front of the laptop

What Can Be Done?

Aside from the cases where harassment is concerned, employees may be held responsible for some of the exploitation. To prevent the blame from being passed on to you, it is advised that employees place formal complaints or refuse situations that might lead to things such as overworking or no compensation for extra projects.

At a personal level creating these boundaries can help in most workplaces. On a legal level, we would advise hiring an employment lawyer. You can get in touch with our labor and employment attorneys and our work harassment attorney in Maryland at Luchansky Laws for a free consultation to help you decide your next steps.

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