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Right to Work:
Wyoming is a right to work and at will employment state. Right to work state means that no person is required to become or remain a member with any labor organization in order to get or keep a job. It is a misdemeanor for any employer to try and force membership or non-membership in labor organizations on any employee or potential employee. At will employment means that an employer may fire any employee at any time with no reason given, unless an employment contract specifies that an employee is NOT at will.
W.S. Title 27 Labor and Employment:
Unemployment insurance is a program that pays temporary benefits to workers who lose their job due to NO FAULT of their own. To qualify for unemployment compensation you must: 1) be unemployed through no fault of your own (as determined by the Unemployment Insurance Division); 2) be able to work; 3) be available for work; 4) be actively seeking work; 5) be monetarily eligible; 6) timely file your bi-weekly claims for payment; and 7) be registered for work with your nearest state Employment Center. The Wyoming Unemployment Handbook provides more details on each of the requirements and how to file. http://doe.wyo.gov/ProductionDocuments/UI/claimant_handbook.pdf
If you want to file an unemployment insurance claim, you can do it on the Internet
There is also Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which can be received up to 20 weeks. A claimant may be eligible for emergency unemployment if he has exhausted his previous unemployment insurance claim. To be eligible for emergency unemployment, the claimant must: 1) have a benefit year that has ended and be unable to establish a new benefit year under REGULAR unemployment insurance; OR 2) have received all unemployment insurance benefits available in a current benefit year, the benefit year has not ended yet but there is no balance available; AND 3) have total earnings on the regular unemployment claim of at least 1.5 times the HIGHEST quarter in the base period of the claim. You can file an emergency unemployment compensation claim online or by telephone ((307) 473-3789).
There are two different types of minimum wage laws, state and federal. Wyoming's current minimum wage under state law is $5.15. Under federal law it is $7.25. If an employer chooses to pay minimum wage, then the employer must pay the minimum wage (either state or federal) that is the highest, so a Wyoming employer in this instance must pay the federal minimum wage. Some states pay a higher minimum state wage that the federal minimum. At the date of this writing, the minimum wage under state law in California is $8.00.
Wyoming has no overtime, breaks, vacation, sick leave, severance, or holidays laws. Therefore, Wyoming employers are not required to give this time off (paid or unpaid).
Under Wyoming state law, it is a discriminatory or unfair employment practice for an employer (the State of Wyoming or any political subdivision or department thereof or any person employing two or more employees within Wyoming)to refuse to hire, to discharge, to promote or demote, or to discriminate in matters of compensation or the terms, conditions or privileges of employment against, a qualified disabled person or any person otherwise qualifies because of age (40 years or older), sex, race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or pregnancy. An employer also cannot discriminate based upon military service or status, off premises tobacco use or use or nonuse of tobacco in general, and any genetic information the employer may obtain.
Child Labor information:
Under Wyoming state law, children under the age of 14 are not allowed to work (unless in a family business or on a farm or in domestic or lawn and yard care service). Any young person under the age of 16 may not work more than 8 hours in a 12 hour period except if working on a farm or in domestic service. Nor may he or she work before 5 am or after 10 pm (followed by a school day), or after 12 midnight (on days not followed by a school day). Children between the ages of 14 and 16 who are not enrolled in school may work for an 8 hour period between 5 am and midnight.
There are numerous kinds of jobs that children may work in and these are listed in the Child Labor Pamphlet.
Safety and health:
When you have concerns for your safety and health at your place of employment, you can follow one of two paths- either file a formal or nonformal complaint. The formal complaint lets you send the required information online and after you sign the filled out form, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services will schedule a compliance inspection. The requirements to file a formal complaint are: 1) you must be a current employee; or 2) a representative of employees (such as union, attorney, elected representative, or a family member with the employee's concurrence) or 3) a present employee of another company, if you are exposed to the hazards of the complained- about work place.
The second path available is the nonformal complaint. The nonformal complaint allows the worker to send information voicing his or her concerns by an online form, and after evaluation the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services determines what the appropriate action to take is. ANYONE with concern for employee safety and health can use this process.
Workers' Compensation (WC) is a program that was authorized by the Wyoming Constitution and created by statute ( W.S. 27-14-101 through 27-14-806) to provide medical, wage, and disability benefits to those workers who were injured while working in "covered" jobs. WC benefits are available to employees without regard to any fault of the employer. With the program, if injuries are covered, then the injured worker gives up his or her right to sue the employer for money damages. Also, in some cases benefits are offered to the injured worker's dependent family.
If you experience a work related injury, the very first thing to do is report your injury to your supervisor IMMEDIATELY (you may need to fill out an accident report with your company). Next see a doctor if necessary, file a Wyoming Report of Injury with Workers' Safety and Compensation within 10 days (completely fill out the form, preferably with your employer- just to ensure all information is correct, and remember to SIGN YOUR REPORT FORM). Once your form is received by the Workers' Safety and Compensation Division, you will receive a 9-digit case number. This number must be used anytime you are at the doctor, so the doctor can bill Workers' Safety and Compensation directly for the injury related medical care. Also, make sure to file a claim for benefits in order to receive WC benefits; the injury report is not a claim for benefits. If the injury was a result of a single brief occurrence rather than occurring over a substantial period of time then you must file your claim for benefits within one year after the injury occurred or within one year after the discovery of the injury if it wasn't readily apparent. The statute of limitations for filing claims for injuries which occur over a substantial period of time is different than for injuries which are the result of a single occurrence.
Upon receipt of the injury report, an investigation and review of the matter will be conducted by the Division, and the Division's review will address questions of jurisdiction and compensability. The matter will be reviewed within 15 days from the date of the injury report was filed and the final determination or request for further information will be issued. If further information was requested, within 45 days of that request, the Division will makes its final decision if the injury is compensable, within the jurisdiction of WC, and the amount allowed. The final decision will be mailed to all affected parties and will include all required information and the claim process can begin. If there is an objection to the claim amount, redetermination can occur, but this is rare.
Remember, if you are injured on the job, make sure you and your employer always fill out a Workers' Compensation report because if you don't, there's a good chance your injury won't be covered and you will be stuck with large medical bills. WC laws are complicated and the statutory process must be followed in order to receive WC benefits.
Spring 2012 SAP extern Emily Thomas, a University of Wyoming Law student, wrote this section while under the supervision of the Students' Attorney Program.