Millions of young people start their professional careers here in New York. And doing so is not easy. The current job market is highly competitive, and New York in particular has a reputation for pushing people to work especially hard to get ahead.

That said, workers have rights. This means that if you are just starting out in a professional capacity, there are state and federal laws that govern the actions of employers. It is important to be aware of some of the more relevant measures that affect young employees.

Fair wages

The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates basic requirements for minimum wage and overtime, among other items. It is a federal law that specifies who is eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay and what that rate of payment is.

In accordance with the FLSA, the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour. The FLSA also requires that non-exempt workers receive at least one and one-half times their regular rate for any hours worked over 40 in a work week.

Understand that these are federal requirements. State level requirements are different, though they cannot violate federal laws. For instance, in New York, the minimum wage is different — it’s higher. Though, the specific rate varies based on where a person works in the state.

Protection from misconduct

There are also laws that protect employees from harassment and discrimination. Broadly, these laws make it unlawful for employers to permit or engage in the mistreatment of workers based on certain traits. These traits include age, race, gender, religion, national origin and other factors.

The laws also provide employees with legal protection from hostile work environments and quid pro quo harassment.

Know your rights

Young people often believe that low pay or mistreatment is an unavoidable part of starting at the bottom. And they might be so fearful of losing a job that they assume they need to just deal with wage violations or discrimination until they can move on.

However, this is not true. Every employee deserves a safe, fair working environment and compensation. In cases where this does not exist, filing a legal claim may be worth considering.