Labor laws aim to protect employees from discrimination pertaining to race, color, religion, gender and national origin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 deals with issues such as discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge and job training and provides for a reasonable accommodation of religious practices. Business owners must be conversant with the basic labor laws that apply at the state and federal levels, as noncompliance with these laws can result in audits, lawsuits and fines.
The Fair Labor Standards Act regulates employee wages and establishes the minimum wage and overtime payments. FLSA also governs child labor practices, making sure that the work environment is safe for children and that employment does not jeopardize their educational opportunities. Under FLSA, employers must display a poster that outlines the law's requirements and must maintain records that detail nonexempt employee hours worked and wages earned.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act sets and enforces standards that employers must follow to maintain a hazard-free work environment. The law covers all workers except those who are self-employed, farms that hire only immediate family members and employers protected under other federal agencies, such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Hazards include any activity that can bring harm to employees, such as mechanical failures, radiation and extreme temperatures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts inspections and penalizes noncompliant employers, and willful violators can face fines of up to $250,000. Although OSHA does not set standards for workplace violence, when that violence can lead to death or serious injury, courts have interpreted the general duty clause to include it as a hazard.
Protection from Disability Discrimination
Labor laws strive to provide equal opportunities to disabled people who have otherwise the necessary qualification to apply to or be hired by a company. The law urges employers to accommodate physical and mental limitations of the applicants subject to the necessary qualifications being available. If you have 15 or more employees, you must provide your disabled workers with the same opportunities you provide the rest of your workforce. You also can't ask about job applicants' disabilities before you hire them, and once you hire disabled people, you must make reasonable accommodations for their disabilities.
Age and Gender Equality
It is against the law, specifically the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, to eliminate job applicants or remove existing employees from service on the basis of age if they are older than 40. Aged employees can retain their existing work or get new options alongside other applicants. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects job aspirants and employees from gender discrimination for selection, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 mandates that men and women must receive equal pay if their work is substantially equal in skill, effort and responsibility.
Protection from Retaliation
Employees and applicants can object to unfair labor practices by filing a complaint. For example, claims of discrimination can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Employers aren't allowed to retaliate or take adverse actions such as firing, demoting or harassing employees who file unfair labor practice claims.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964
- U.S. Department of Labor: Compliance Assistance - Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Job Hazard Analysis
- U.S. Department of Labor: OSHA Takes Action to Protect America’s Workers With Severe Violator Program and Increased Penalties
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Workplace Violence
- U.S. Department of Justice: A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Facts About Age Discrimination
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Facts About Retaliation
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: You Have the Right to a Safe Workplace