Labor & Employment Law – Bloomberg Law

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What are the major types of employment law?

Employment laws span broad categories, but generally fit into one of these types:

  • Wage and hour
  • Leave
  • Discrimination
  • Labor
  • Workplace safety
  • Workers’ compensation

Wage and hour laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the primary federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards for private and government sectors.

The FLSA requires that a minimum wage be paid for all hours worked. Under the FLSA, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but many state and local laws establish higher minimum wage rates. Payment of the FLSA-prescribed federal minimum wage doesn’t excuse an employer from complying with higher state or local minimum wage requirements.

Wage laws also cover job classification, which impacts pay and benefits. Among further federal measures, the Immigration and Nationality Act includes labor standard provisions, specifically among those authorized to work in the U.S. under nonimmigrant visa programs.

Anti-discrimination laws

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the principal law prohibiting most forms of discrimination in public and private employment, but other federal laws also offer protection from various types of workplace discrimination. These laws include:

  • The Equal Pay Act
  • The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which broadens the statute of limitations for filing pay discrimination claims
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

Many states and cities have enacted laws to strengthen or expand the protections provided under federal law.

Remedies for discriminatory practices

In instances where an employee has lost earnings due to discriminatory employment practices, the employee may be awarded back pay of those lost earnings as part of a make-whole remedy. Lost earnings include, but are not limited to:

  • Compensation or salary
  • Overtime
  • Premium pay and shift differentials
  • Incentive pay
  • Raises
  • Bonuses
  • Lost sales commissions
  • Cost of living increases
  • Tips
  • Medical and life insurance
  • Fringe benefits
  • Pensions
  • Stock options
  • Awards

Labor laws

With a focus on collective action, federal labor laws address union activity about working conditions and wages. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA), which opened the door to similar state-level statutes, remains the most significant federal labor legislation, and applies to private sector employers such as manufacturers, retailers, higher-learning institutions, and healthcare organizations.

Among additional labor laws, the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 requires financial disclosure and election reporting standards.

Workplace safety laws

A number of safety measures safeguard private and public sector workplaces. Among these, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) outlines occupational health and safety standards for workplaces nationwide. Under the law, employers must provide a workplace free from recognized environmental hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administers and enforces these standards and conducts various investigations, such as those related to fatalities or injuries, employee complaints, programmed inspections, and follow-up reviews.

Workers’ compensation laws

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides lost wages and medical expense coverage for work-related injury or illness. While each state has its own workers’ compensation program, the DOL’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs administers federal workers’ compensation laws such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, and the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.

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