When you violate your employees’ rights, you expose yourself and your business to penalties of stiff monetary fines and corrective measures that could include jail or prison sentences. Federal law covers an employee’s right to fair pay, health and safety, a non-discriminatory workplace, and freedom from retaliation.
Federal Employment Rights Business Owners Need to Know
- Safety and Health at the Workplace: The Occupational Safety and Health Act, administered by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), a state-regulated program, ensures regulation of health and safety conditions in both the public and private sectors. If your organization is covered by this Act, you must comply with regulations and standards of safety and health promulgated by OSHA. As an employer, you have a mandate to provide your employees with a workplace, and work, free from recognized hazards. The Act is usually enforced through workplace investigations and inspections.
- Wages and Hours: The FSLA, Fair Labor Standard Act, prescribes wages and overtime standard pays for both public and private sectors. The Wage and Hour Division administers this Act. It requires that you pay your employee minimum wage and overtime pay at 1½ times the regular pay rate. It restricts the number of hours children below 16 years of age can work at nonagricultural activities and forbids you from employing those under 18 years of age for specific types of jobs. The Immigration and National Act (INA) defines immigrants legally allowed to work in the United States under non-immigrant visa programs (H2A, H-1B1, H-1B, H-1C).
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA states that you must allow your employees to have a three-month leave for eligible medical purposes. To qualify, your employee must have worked in your organization for a year, and for not less than 1,250 hours in that course of time. You are expected to preserve the position of your qualified employee for this leave duration.
- Americans with Disability Act (ADA): This Act defines disability as a mental or physical impairment that limits a person’s performance in one or more important activities in life. It prohibits you from discriminating against an employee with any qualified disabilities. If a disabled person is able to execute an important function with or without sensible accommodation, you can’t discriminate against that individual.
- Security of Employee Benefits: The ERISA, Employee Retirement Income Security Act, regulates welfare or pension benefits plans for your employees. The Employee Benefits Security Administration administers the First Title of ERISA and enforces laws involving trust, disclosure, and requirements of reporting on the fiduciaries of your employees’ welfare benefits and pension plans and on organizations or individuals involved in these plans. Title IV of ERISA provides that it is your duty, and that of plan administrators, to protect some of your employees’ retirement benefits by funding their insurance system through premium payments to PBGC, Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation.
- Employee Protection. Several public safety, labor, and environmental laws offer protection to whistleblowers. These laws protect employees who complain or protest against your employment law violations. Should you retaliate against a whistleblower, you may pay back wages or reinstate the whistleblowing employee, among other possible penalties.
- Closing of Plants and Layoffs. Plant closings and layoffs are subject to WARN, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. You have an obligation to warn or inform your employees of an imminent plant or business closure or layoffs.
Sound like a lot? It can be. Yet it is crucial to avoid any violation of your employees’ rights. Stay informed of federal laws governing the rights of your employees through consultation with your employment law attorney. Your attorney tracks changing regulations and enforcement to guide you to develop proper business protocols and ensure accurate reporting.
Are you concerned that your business may not be properly handling cases involving your employees’ federal employment rights? Call Company Counsel LLC today for a compliance review.