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10 Major Federal Employment Laws: An Overview

The U.S. Department of Labor administers more than 180 million federal employment laws that impact about 10 million businesses and 125 million employees in the U.S. While a significant portion of these federal employment laws are focused on specific industries, there are some major statutes that are generally applicable to businesses operating in the U.S.

In this blog series, we will point out and summarize the 10 major federal employment laws that commonly impact U.S. businesses. If you need any assistance with resolving a business or employment-related legal issue, don’t hesitate to contact trusted Denver Employment & Business Lawyer Thomas E. Downey. He is skilled at successfully resolving even the most complicated business legal issues.

An Overview of Major Federal Employment Laws

1 – Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for Wages & Hours

justice scales and court gavel

This federal statute essentially outlines the standards for paying wages and overtime, an issue that impacts most private and public businesses. In general, the FLSA:

  • Requires employers to pay workers at least the federal minimum wage and, for hours worked above the standard workweek, overtime that is at least 1.5 times the worker’s standard wages
  • Restricts the number of hours that children younger than 16 years old can work (in nonagricultural operations)
  • Forbids the employment of children younger than 18 years old in certain occupations that are considered to be too dangerous.

2 – Occupation Safety and Health (OSH) Act for Workplace Safety

This federal employment law pertains to the conditions in most private and public industries. In general, the OSH Act:

  • Regulates the health and safety standards for workplaces
  • Requires that employers provide workers with safe workplaces that are “free from recognized, serious hazards”
  • Requires employers to submit to OSHA workplace inspections and investigations when noncompliance may be an issue.

3 – Workers’ Compensation Laws

lady justice desk statue and court gavel

While states have their own workers’ compensation laws, there are some federal employment statutes that can also impact businesses and workers, depending on their industry. In particular, some of the primary federal employment laws related to workers’ compensation issues include the following:

  • Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, which protects federal workers who sustain workplace injuries
  • Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, which pertains to energy workers and provides compensation in the event that on-the-job radiation exposure leads to cancer
  • Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which outlines the conditions for compensating maritime workers who sustain on-the-job injuries.

4 – Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

This federal employment laws related to employee benefit security pertains to employers that provide pension and/or welfare benefit plans to workers. Under the terms of the ERISA:

  • Fiduciaries overseeing pension and welfare benefit plans have to comply with a range of disclosure, reporting and fiduciary obligations.
  • Certain employers have to fund an insurance system to set up some specific protections for retirement benefits.

5 – Labor-Management Reporting & Disclosure Act (LMRDA)

Also referred to as the Landrum-Griffin Act, this statute governs the relationship between unions and union members. In particular, the LMRDA:

  • Protects union funds
  • Encourages union democracy
  • Requires labor organizations to file annual financial reports (regarding certain labor practices) with the Office of Labor-Management Standards
  • Sets standards for electing union officers.

6 – Federal Employment Laws Regarding Employee Protections

This body of federal employment laws puts certain protections in place for employees who end up blowing the whistle on their employers’ illegal activities. In particular, these laws:

  • Allow employees to come forward and report illegal employer activities without the fear of retaliation
  • Provide remedies for whistleblowers when they are retaliated against by employers (such remedies may include payment of back wages and job reinstatement).

Additional Major Federal Employment Laws Summarized

7 – Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act

While these summaries of major federal employment laws are informative, contact Denver Lawyer Thomas E. Downey for experienced help resolving your business legal issues.

While these summaries of major federal employment laws are informative, contact Denver Lawyer Thomas E. Downey for experienced help resolving your business legal issues.

This law provides protections for people who serve in the U.S. armed forces. In particular, this statute stipulates that individuals who serve in the armed forces or are called up from reserves or the National Guard have the right to be reemployed by the employer for whom they worked when they were called to service.

8 – Employee Polygraph Protection Act

With this federal employment law, U.S. employers are not legally allowed to use lie detectors (or polygraphs) on employees, except for in some very limited cases. In particular, this Act:

  • Prevents most employers from using polygraphs during the hiring process and from firing employees who refuse to submit to these lie detector tests at any point in their employment
  • Allows the use of polygraphs for security firms, as well as pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors.

9 – Consumer Credit Protection Act (CPCA)

Under this federal employment law, employers are not legally permitted to fire employees because their wages have been garnished by creditors. Additionally, this law:

  • Restricts the amounts that can be garnished from people’s wages in a given week
  • Applies to all businesses and workers who pay or receive wages (including commissions, salaries, bonuses, etc. and usually excluding tips).

10 – Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

This federal employment law pertains to employers that staff at least 50 workers and generally require that these employers grant as much as 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for childbirth, adoption or a serious illness (either that the employee himself or his spouse, parent or child has developed).

Denver Employment & Business Lawyer at Downey & Associates, PC

For experienced help with your business and employment legal needs, you can count on Denver Employment & Business Lawyer Thomas E. Downey. Since 1983, Thomas Downey and the other legal professionals at Downey & Associates, PC, have been providing individuals and businesses in the Denver Metro Area and throughout the U.S. with the highest level of legal service for their litigation and business legal issues.

A choice to work with our Denver attorney can give you confidence that your important legal matters will be handled with expert care and attention and that we will work diligently to help you resolve your case as favorably and efficiently as possible.

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