Arkansas, the Natural State, is home to over 2.8 million people, according to a 2008 census. The state’s economy brings in a GDP of around $87 billion annually. AR relies heavily on agricultural output. Key cash crops include soy, cotton, poultry, and sorghum. Arkansas also supports numerous industrial operations, including metal fabrication, mining, and paper products. In recent years, tourism to AR has proved a booming business as well. Business friendly tax regulations have attracted prominent employers, including Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, and an array of foreign auto parts manufacturers.
Like Alabama, Arkansas has no state agency to handle employment discrimination, harassment, age discrimination, and retaliation claims. Instead, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles such matters. However, just because Arkansas does not field its own state agency to protect workers does not mean that employees do not have vast protections.
Quite to the contrary, in Arkansas it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of citizenship, disability, gender, religion, race, color, national origin, age, genetics, or citizenship status. Employers must strictly adhere to guidelines set forth by federal law. For instance, companies may not discriminate against workers who are 40 plus years old and must abide by Acts of Congress, such as the Equal Pay Act, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Age Discrimination and Employment Act.
Over the past decade, Arkansas has found itself in the eye of a storm of many high profile worker discrimination, harassment, and wage and hour cases. Bentonville, Arkansas-based employer Wal-Mart, in particular, has seen its fair share of high profile legal battles over wage and hour violations at franchises throughout AR and the rest of the nation.
The battle over Wal-Mart’s alleged abuse of employees and spartan benefit packages prompted outrage from progressive activists and advocates of workers’ rights across the U.S. Pursuant to those legal battles, Wal-Mart has reformed its practices and remunerated many past and present employees per mandated settlements.
Regardless of the size or industry of your employer, they have the obligation to treat their employees with dignity, fairness, and respect. When companies fail to do so, employees have the right to seek legal action in cases such as:
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) violations. A severe or long-term illness in an employee or their close family member – or the birth or adoption of a baby – entitles individuals to up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave without losing their jobs.
- Sexual harassment. Employers in Arkansas must not foster hostile work environments in which employees experience unwelcome sexual requests, behaviors, or demands.
- Whistleblower and Sarbanes Oxley claims. When employees report suspected illegal conduct (such as fraud or environmental violations) on the part of their employers, they are entitled to protection from wrongful termination.
If your Arkansas based employer has denied you benefits unfairly or subjected you to harassment and age, race, sex, or gender discrimination, you likely feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Local, state, and federal agencies can offer recourse in such situations, or contact an employment attorney can help you hold your employer accountable.