Types of Employment Laws

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Employers are often overwhelmed by the many laws governing labor and employment in the United States. These employment laws can come from both the federal and state levels. Some statutes overlap and some apply only to certain employers or situations. There are several types of employment statutes including civil rights, family and medical leave, workers’ compensation, and labor relations laws. Other types of employment statutes include workplace safety, compensation and child labor, and immigrant employment statutes.

Civil rights laws

There are employment statutes in the United States, as well as in the state of Texas, which protect employees against discrimination. These statutes prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, pregnancy status, age, and disability. At the federal level, the original anti-discrimination statutes derive from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the many amendments added to it over the past few decades. This employment statute covers all employers with fifteen or more employees.

The Age Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on a person’s age. The employment statutes originally came into effect in 1967, but have since been strengthened by other acts and amendments.

The Americans With Disability Act, or ADA, was signed into law in 1990. This act prohibits discrimination based on disability and provides protections for people with a wide range of disabilities, including physical, mental, and genetic. Employers are not allowed to make hiring and firing decisions based on disability and must make reasonable accommodations for job applicants and employees with disabilities.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, enforces these laws at the federal level. The Texas Workforce Commission has this role at the state level.

Family and medical leave laws

In 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act became law, allowing an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12 month period. This employment law allows employees to take time off work to care for a sick family member, to care for a newborn baby, or for pregnancy needs. The act also allows employees unpaid leave for the adoption or foster care of a child. Employees who are covered by this act must have been employed at least 12 months and have worked more than 1250 hours in the past 12 months. This family and medical leave law also requires that the employee work at a company with at least 50 employees working in a 75-mile direction. Family and medical employment statutes cover both public and private sector employers.

Workers’ compensation laws

If an employee is injured or develops an illness because of work-related conditions, the workers’ compensation laws come into effect. In Texas, employers have the option of purchasing workers’ compensation insurance or opting out of the program completely. Employers who purchase workers’ compensation insurance gain legal protections against most employee lawsuits and punitive damages. Those employers who choose to opt out of workers’ compensation insurance have no such legal protections. This employment law states that the employers may be found legally liable for compensatory as well as punitive damages.

Labor relations laws

Though Texas is a “right-to-work” state, there are certain employment laws at the federal level which protect employees who engage in union activities. This employment law says that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee due to actual or perceived participation in a union. The National Labor Relations Act states that if an employee is fired for participating in a union, they must be rehired and compensated back pay.

Workplace safety laws

The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to keep the workplace safe and healthy for employees. This employment law protects employees from recognized hazards such as exposure to extreme noise, toxic chemicals, unsanitary conditions, and mechanical dangers. The law also protects employees from repetitive injuries and infectious diseases, among many other conditions.

Compensation and child labor laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act, originally passed in 1938, sets the federal minimum wage as well as overtime pay regulations. This law also provides guidelines on the employment of teenagers under the age of 18.

Immigrant employment laws

In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act. This law makes it illegal for an employer to recruit or hire those immigrants who are not authorized to work in the United States. Employers cannot recruit or employ any known illegal immigrants.

When faced with these many employment laws, employers can get confused. Some employers may violate one or more of the laws just because they are not aware or do not understand them. A good labor and employment attorney can help. Call Brown & Fortunato today at 1(806) 345-6300 or contact us via email. Our Labor and Employment Group is here to assist you. You can also visit our office at 905 S. Fillmore, Suite 400, in Amarillo, Texas.

This information is subject to change. Please check for updates that are more recent than the published date of this article.