Generally speaking, it is illegal for a majority shareholder to extract value from a company, to the detriment of minority shareholders. Whether you are able to get compensation for such an action would depend on your ability to access legal justice [can you afford to hire a lawyer to sue for what might be a few hundred dollars of payout?].
First, I'll quickly point out that before shares in a company are even worth anything, it must do extraordinarily well - like the top 1% growth potential of the top 5% profitable of the top 50%-or-so that don't fail in the first year - which is so unlikely that in most cases, employee stock options are near-worthless for new startups.
The options being granted should have some contract terms included, guiding when and how they can be exercised in exchange for shares. Those shares also should have some provisions indicating how and when they can be sold. If you don't know these things in advance, assume the worst - that you have no special protections not already provided by your jurisdiction's corporate governance law.
Lack of clarity over how you can convert these options / shares into cash is a bad sign - likely implying poor financial / legal practices on behalf of the company, as well as perhaps implying an unrealistic approach to how the owners might think things will go. ie: if an owner of a startup offers stock options on the assumption that eventually the company will go public, and that s/he doesn't need to worry about conversion in the meantime, that means they are planning only for the unlikeliest-best-case scenario, and not concerned with compensating you if the company is only in the 98th percentile of startups instead of the 99th+ percentile.