At their essence, laws that protect workers’ rights are laws that set healthy working boundaries between the employers and the employees. There are over 180 federal laws that the Department of Labor oversees and enforces. This is a tremendous job considering there are over 10 million employers and 125 million workers throughout the country.
Here are some of the most important types of labor laws that set boundaries between the worker and the employer. To understand whether or not your rights have been violated, it is essential that you reach out to a lawyer for your rights. Seek out a lawyer who works in the labor industry. You may also need to find a lawyer who works in your specific industry.
Minimum Wage and Overtime
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets a federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay.
Child Labor Laws
Not only doe these sets of acts regulate the rate of pay, but it also restricts the hours that children under the age of 16 can work each week. The statutes also keep teens 18 and under from working at jobs that are deemed as too dangerous.
Child labor laws also dictate the amount a child can work during the school day.
Workplace Safety and Health
Also known as the OSHA Act, this law sets health and safety workplace standards. Under this law, employers are required to provide their employees with a workplace that is free from recognized, serious hazards.
All states but two require employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. The laws vary from state to state.
Several other acts fall under workers’ compensation laws that protect people in specific industries. Some of those are the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, and the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.
Employee Benefit Security
Several acts oversee employee benefits. Some are specific to retirement income, and others are in regards to health insurance portability.
Garnishment of Wages
The Consumer Credit Protection Act regulates the garnishment of employee wages by employers.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
This critical act requires employers of 50 or more workers to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for the birth or adoption of a child. Under FMLA, a worker can also take the same amount of time to help care for a spouse, child, or parent as well.
Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Work
Several acts make wage protections, sets housing and transportation safety standards, and gives farm labor contractor resignation requirements. One such law is the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. Another, the Fair Labor Standards Act regulates the hiring and employment of agricultural and seasonal workers.
Several acts protect the safety of workers who work in a mine. These acts set health and safety standards. The standards are so tightly regulated that inspectors can close dangerous mines that have an abundance of airborne contaminants, noise, and respirable dust. They also regulate the training requirements of employees working in mines.
Specifically, the Black Lung Benefits Act gives cash payments and pays the medical bills of miners who are disabled from black lung disease. This act also pays benefits to a deceased miner if the death was caused by black lung disease.
Related to the OSHA laws, other specific laws regulate the construction industry. They require construction contractors to provide equal employment opportunities. They also discuss the occupational safety and health standards required in the construction industry.
There are several acts, such as the Federal Transit Law, that discuss the rights of employees who are in the mass transit industry.
The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service give veterans preference in hiring. The act also protects veterans from being laid off during a reduction of staff.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act forces employers to give early warnings to employees of impending layoffs or plant closings.
If you feel as if your workplace rights have been violated, seek the advice of a labor lawyer who works in your state. Since not all labor laws are federally mandated, the amount you can receive in compensation for a workplace grievance or injury can vary from state to state.
Some states, like Pennsylvania, have been known to be on the side of workers, especially when it comes to lost wage benefits and benefits for a workplace injury.
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