Federal Employment Laws: Do They Apply to You?

Federal Employment Laws: Do They Apply to You?

As someone who runs a business or helps with human resources, you are busy with many employee-related tasks, including recruiting and onboarding, employee relations, benefits, and perhaps payroll. But as you go about your day-to-day work, there are many federal laws that must keep up with, because not doing so may lead to serious consequences for your company.

But not all of these laws are created equal. In some instances, your organization may not have enough employees to fall under a particular law. Or there are cases where part-time employees are treated differently than full-time employees.

This synopsis will provide an overview of the various employment laws and the number of employees your company must have before they apply to you.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The ACA, or Obamacare as it is often referred, requires some companies to provide health insurance to their employees. Despite the repeal of the individual mandate in 2017, the employer mandate is still on the books. All employers with more than 50 employees are required to either offer health insurance at a certain level and cost, or pay a penalty for either not offering coverage or not offering affordable coverage.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The ADEA prohibits employers from discriminating based on age when hiring, promoting, and discharging or in compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment. Specifically, the ADEA forbids employers from discriminating against people who are age 40 or older, though states may have laws that protect younger works. The ADEA applies to private employers with 20 or more employees. There are also several specific exclusions, such as certain executives, university faculty, and police and fire personnel.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits people from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in various areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services. For employers, the ADA protects both employees and job applicants. It also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. The ADA applies to all private employers with 15 or more employees.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards. These diverse set of laws apply to all employers regardless of size. However, certain employees are exempt from various protections. For example, ‘exempt’ employees, such as executive, administrative and professional employees (including teachers and other academic staff,) and outside sales employees are exempt from both minimum wage and overtime pay laws. When it comes to ‘exempt’ vs. ‘non-exempt’ employees, it is important to note that exemptions are narrowly defined under the FLSA, and the exemptions are based on the work an employee does and not necessarily a job title. This is most often seen with employees who have the title of assistant manager but spend most of their time performing the same duties as other non-exempt employees.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA)

The FRCA exists to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. Much of this law pertains to individuals, but there are provisions that relate to businesses. For employers of any size, there are a number of steps they must take before they obtain an employee’s or applicant’s consumer report. First, employers must tell employees and applicants they might use their consumer report on employment decisions. Then, they must receive written permission from the employee or applicant. Before an employer may take adverse action against an employee or applicant, they must give them a copy of their consumer report and a copy of A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA requires employers to provide employees with job-protected unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. This leave can be used for various reasons including personal or family illness. FMLA leave can be used at once or intermittently. The Act allows 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period.

There are eligibility requirements for both employers and employees. First, an employer must have 50 or more employees within a 75 miles radius. Employees must have worked at the company for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months. Since the federal law was adopted, many states have since dropped the employer threshold, expanded coverage, and/ or mandated paid family leave.

National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

The NLRA protects the right of private sector employees to organize unions, bargain collectively, and strike. The Act does not cover railroad workers who are covered under the Railway Labor Act or federal, state or local government workers. Supervisors are also excluded. The NLRA applies to employers of all sizes.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

The OSH Act governs occupational health and safety standards for both the private sector and federal government. While companies of all sizes are required to comply with the law, companies with 10 or fewer employees usually do not have to comply with OSHA’s injury and illness recording and reporting requirements.

Title VII

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. This applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Private sector employers with 100 or more employees must file an EEO-1 report annually.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

USERRA protects the job rights of individuals who serve in the military. The Act ensures that military members are not disadvantaged in their career because of their service, are reemployed upon return from duty and are not discriminated against based on military service. All employers are covered by USERRA.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act)

The WARN Act requires employers to provide a 60 calendar-day advance notice of plant closings and mass layoffs. Employers must also give notice to a labor union (if applicable) and certain local government officials. Employers must give notice to all hourly and salaried workers, as well as managerial and supervisory employees. There are a few exceptions to this law such as unforeseeable business circumstances and natural disaster, but this generally applies to all employers who have had 100 or more employees who have worked at least six months over the prior year. This does not include employees who work less than 20 hours a week.

Snapshot – Minimum # of Employees
ACA – 50 employees
ADEA – 20 employees
ADA – 15 employees
FLSA – 1 employee
FRCA – 1 employee
FMLA – 50 employees
NLRA – 1 employee
OSHA – 1 employees
Title VII – 15 employees
USERRA – 1 employee

About The Author

Drew Lunt is the President of The Lunt Group LLC, the company that owns and operates EmploymentLawHandbook.com. Mr. Lunt is a licensed attorney with over 15 years experience practicing employment and labor law. His prior experience includes working for private law firms as well as the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We are grateful to have you as a visitor to our site.

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