The employer-employee relationship is a tightly-regulated one. Gone are the days where employers could dictate any terms of the employer-employee relationship and the employee was left with little recourse if he or she felt he or she was being abused, mistreated, or taken advantage of by the employer (and it is good these days are gone!). Now, there are numerous federal and state laws that govern how employers are to treat their employees as well as some laws describing the rights employers continue to have the employer-employee relationship. Workers who are aware of these important laws are better able to take action when their legal rights are threatened.
Some of the most important federal employment laws that workers should familiarize themselves with:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: This law provides protections against workplace discrimination based on a person’s race, religion, sex, national origin, and other protected classifications. This law also protects individuals from sexual harassment in the workplace. Workplace discrimination can consist of refusing to hire, demoting, terminating, or otherwise treating another employee or potential employee negatively on the basis of his or her protected classification.
The Family and Medical Leave Act: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees who have a year of service and who work for organizations with 50 or more employees to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave each year for a child’s birth or adoption, or to care for themselves or a close relative if they have a “serious medical condition.” The employee’s job is protected during this period of time; however, the employer may require the employee to use up any vacation time or sick leave time he or she has accumulated before granting a request for FMLA leave.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act: This law does not necessarily provide age discrimination protections to all employees. Instead, this law prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees or potential employees on the basis of their age if they are older than 40 years of age.
The Americans with Disabilities Act: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against potential employees or employees on the basis of their disability or handicap. During the hiring process, employers ought to steer away of questions about an applicant’s disabilities, even if these disabilities are apparent. If an applicant or employee is able to perform the essential job duties of a position with reasonable accommodations, the employer is required to provide these.
The Fair Labor Standards Act: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the federal minimum wage and requires employers to pay their workers at least this amount for all work performed up to 40 hours per week. If an employee works more than this amount, then the employer must pay the worker at least one-and-one-half times this minimum wage amount for all time in excess of 40 hours worked in a given week. The federal minimum wage law establishes the “floor” when it comes to minimum wages: states are free to set minimum wages that are higher than this amount, but no state can set a minimum wage that is lower than the federal minimum wage.
Employees who are familiar with the rights and protections guaranteed to them by federal law are in a better position to recognize when these rights and protections are threatened or violated. Employees who feel that their federal employment law rights have been violated can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to learn about filing a claim and seeking the EEOC’s assistance in investigating and (if applicable) seeking redress for that claim. Find out more about the federal employment laws you need to know by contacting an experienced attorney at My AZ Legal Team, PLLC.