Rights You May Wish You Knew Earlier

As a young adult, you likely take many rights for granted on a daily basis without even realizing it. However, equipped with greater rights awareness, you take control of your financial, professional, and digital lives rather than remain vulnerable to those wanting to take advantage of mistakes, lack of protections, or ignorance on key issues that directly impact you.

Take inspiration from legal cases like United States Vs Diana Fletcher, which upheld individual rights even when facing more powerful opposition. Make sure you feel fully informed, not exploited.

Employment & Workplace Rights

You spend much of your week at work. Yet the average American fails 3 TRUE/FALSE questions on basic employment laws according to a CareerBuilder survey. We want to make sure you know your rights:

  • You are protected from discrimination based on:
    • Race
    • Gender
    • Religion
    • Age
    • Disability
    • National Origin
  • Your employer cannot make hiring, firing, promotion, or payment decisions based on any of the above-protected classes.
  • You have a right to reasonable accommodations for disabilities, religious practices, pregnancies, etc.
  • Your boss cannot stop you from discussing your salary with coworkers.
  • You must receive at least the mandatory minimum wage, although rules on overtime vary.

We could list countless other examples – but the key is you should never feel helpless at work. Report any concerning behaviors immediately or discuss with a labor rights advocate!

Tenant & Housing Rights

Did you know over 50% of college students lack a basic understanding of renters’ rights and responsibilities? We want to overview key guidelines on issues from security deposits to repairs, privacy rights, and more:

  • Landlords must provide habitable living conditions, which include:
    • Running water
    • Heat (often set at minimum 65°F)
    • Pest control
    • Functioning appliances
  • If conditions are severely deficient, tenants have the right to legally withhold or reduce rents. But specific notice procedures must be followed.
  • Landlords need advance notice (often 24-48 hrs) to enter rented units, barring emergencies. They cannot invade reasonable privacy expectations.
  • Deposits should never exceed 1-2 months rent. Interest on deposits is required in some states. Expect a full itemized list of potential deductions.

Again – this is just a brief overview. Protect yourself by reading the entirety of your lease contracts thoroughly and asking for clarification on confusing clauses. Also, document rental unit conditions precisely during move-in/move-out.

Consumer & Borrowing Protections

Managing credit, loans, and debt obligations can quickly get complicated. From credit reporting to debt collection tactics to high-pressure lending practices, consumers often get taken advantage of:

  • Lenders must provide full, honest disclosure on Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) and total repayment costs on loans or credit cards.
  • Your credit report must be provided free of charge if requested once per year. Everyone has the right to dispute any inaccurate information hurting their score.
  • If the total cost of a loan exceeds certain thresholds, you have a cancellation period where the contract can be voided without penalty.
  • Aggressive debt collectors cannot legally threaten unrealistic punishments. Nor can collectors contact consumers excessively early/late hours without consent.

While the full scope goes well beyond this article, the key once again is exercising all of your rights through careful reading, questioning, and investigation before entering any major borrowing commitment or financial contract.

Digital Privacy & Social Media Rights

Between data tracking, privacy policy legalese, and social media fine print – you sacrifice many digital rights without even knowing it:

  • Websites and apps must clearly disclose how your personal data is collected, used, and shared at signup. But hardly anyone reads those long privacy policies!
  • Social networks claim rights to the usage of all images and content you upload – allowing them to potentially resell your posts, photos, and videos.
  • Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can sell browsing history data and other usage logs to third parties – allowing sensitive personal details to be compiled.
  • Apps access smartphone features like camera, contacts, and location while in the background, even when not actively using the app.

We suggest immediately checking app permission settings on your devices to restrict anything unnecessary. Start questioning why so much personal data access is required to use “free” apps and services!

Additionally, consider using privacy-focused web browsers like Firefox and DuckDuckGo that limit cross-site tracking. Use encrypted email clients instead of webmail through major providers, too.

Ultimately, we have surrendered many digital rights in favor of convenience and access. But increased awareness of these issues is the first step in the fight to regain control of our data from powerful tech giants!


Our rights are continually evolving alongside technology and shifting societal expectations of fairness and equal treatment. We hope this overview has outlined some key rights you depend upon daily – perhaps inspiring you to better understand what legal protections you can exercise in aspects of life from employment, housing, borrowing, and online activities.

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