Federal Employment and Labor Laws

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is a federal law governing employers’ requirements to provide health insurance benefits to eligible employees.  Factors to consider whether an employer must pay its employees include how many employees the employer has and whether the employee works full-time.  Under the ACA, an employee is considered to be full-time if they work 30 hours or more in a workweek or 130 hours in a month.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against individuals with a disability regarding hiring, employing, terminating, and all other terms and conditions of employment.  Central to an employee’s obligations regarding the ADA is providing responsible accommodations to an employee with disabilities that will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.  Under the ADA, an employer may not be required to hire or continue to employ an employee who is not able to perform the essential functions of the job even after considering all possible reasonable accommodations.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing the ADA is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who are 40 years or older regarding hiring, employing, terminating, and all other terms and conditions of employment.  The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees.  An employer with more than 20 employees may not be allowed to treat employees younger than 40 differently from employees who are 40 years or older if it can establish a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) requires the exception. The federal agency responsible for enforcing the ADEA is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Child Labor

The federal government has established child labor laws.  Child labor laws, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), govern how old minors must be to be employed, what hours in a day they may work, and how many hours in a workweek they may work.  Child labor laws also identify certain occupations that are considered particularly hazardous or detrimental to minors health or welfare.  Minors must obtain an age certificate before they may be eligible to be hired.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing child labor laws is the Department of Labor (DOL), Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows individuals and beneficiaries who have been covered by an employer’s health plan to continue to participate in the plan after a qualifying event otherwise make them ineligible to participate in the plan.  COBRA requirements cover employers with at least 20 employees on more than 50% of its typical business day.  Individuals may take advantage of COBRA benefits for 18 or 36 months depending on the situation.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that establishes rules and regulations for most voluntarily established retirement and health plans in private industry.  The purpose of ERISA is to provide protection to individuals participating in health plans.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing ERISA is

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) provides consumers with privacy protections from misuse by consumer reporting agencies.  As part of the FCRA, employers must provide prospective and current employees with certain assurances before they can access and rely on consumer records when making employment decisions.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that governs employers’ wage and hour obligations.  The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime, and child labor law requirements.  It also discusses when time spent by employees must be included as hours worked, when employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws, which employees may be paid less than minimum wage, and when and how much tipped employees must be paid. The federal agency responsible for enforcing the FLSA is the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to allow eligible employees to take unpaid leave to take care of their own or a covered family member’s health care needs.  Employers are usually required to reinstate employees after they have taken FLMA to their prior job or one that is similar to it.  To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must have worked at least 12 months for the employer and have worked at least 1,250 hours during that 12-hour period.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing the FMLA is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is a federal law that prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees based on genetic information.  Prohibited discrimination includes taking adverse action against an individual regarding hiring, employing, terminating, and all other terms and conditions of employment.  Genetic information protected by this law includes genetic tests of the employee or family members and medical history.

As part of its protection, GINA does not permit employers to request, require, or purchase genetic information about applicants or employees, except in limited situations.

The federal agency responsible for enforcing the GINA is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law creating national standards to ensure patients consent or have knowledge when sensitive patient health information will be disclosed.  Employers in industries where patient-sensitive health information is collected may be liable when employees disclose patient-sensitive information without proper consent or to disclose the information to other parties that do not have authority to view the information.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing HIPAA is the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is the federal law that governs the relationship between most private businesses, unions, and employees.   The NLRA typically does not apply to employers in the airline, railroad, or agriculture industries.  It also does not apply to government employers.

As part of its responsibilities, the NLRB:

  • conducts representation elections to help employees decide if they would like to be represented by a union
  • investigates and enforces claims that employers have engaged in unfair labor practices
  • enforces rules governing union behavior

The federal agency responsible for enforcing the NLRA is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is the federal law that sets forth workplace safety and health requirements.  Under the OSH Act, employers have a general responsibility to protect employees from injuries and illnesses that occur during work.  In addition to the general responsibility, the OSH Act establishes rules and regulations for certain industries and occupations.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing the OSH Act is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA)

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) is a federal law related to the ADEA and governs agreements between employers and employees who are 40 years or older.  When complying with the OWBPA, employers may enter into agreements with employees who are 40 years or older that protect the employers from claims by employees that they were illegally terminated because of their age.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal law that prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees because they are pregnant or gave childbirth or have medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.  The PDA protection includes requiring employers to provide employees who are pregnant with reasonable accommodations enabling the employees to do their assigned work.  Employees who are protected by the PDA may have additional protection under the ADA and the FMLA.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing the PDA is the EEOC.

Railway Labor Act (RLA)

The Railway Labor Act is the federal law that governs the relationship between employers in the airline and railroad industries, unions, and employees.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing the RLA is the National Mediation Board (NMB).  Because of the critical role airlines and railroads play in the day-to-day functioning of the country, the RLA limits the manners in which disputes may be resolved focusing on alternative dispute resolution procedures including mediation.

Title VII (Race, National Origin, Religion, and Sex discrimination)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who are in certain protected classes regarding hiring, employing, terminating, and all other terms and conditions of employment.  Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees.  The protected classes include race, color, religion, national origin, and sex, including sexual harassment.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing Title VII is the EEOC.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that requires employers to reemploy employees after they have performed and completed service in the uniformed services.  Employers must also provide health insurance protection to any employee taking USERRA leave and who had health benefits before the military leave began. USERRA also provides employment discrimination protections to employees who have been, currently are, or have applied to be members of the uniformed services.  The federal agency responsible for enforcing USERRA is the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act)

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) requires most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notice to the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA) when it plans on closing a plant or engaging in a mass layoff.  An employer is supposed to provide the notice at least 60 days before the plant is closed or the mass layoff will begin.

Employment Law Updates

Laws change in a moment.

Sign up to stay informed.

Visiting on behalf of:

Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!

THANK YOU FOR SUBSCRIBING!

We hope you find our newsletters help you better navigate employment and labor law issues.

Employment Law Updates

Laws change in a moment.

Sign up to stay informed.

Visiting on behalf of:

Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!

THANK YOU FOR SUBSCRIBING!

We hope you find our newsletters help you better navigate employment and labor law issues.