Federal Employment Law Summary

Employers need to be aware of the wide range of employment laws and regulations with which they must comply. Below is a brief summary of various federal employment laws for which employers are most frequently named in charges, complaints and lawsuits. This is not an exhaustive list of all federal employment laws, and additional state and local laws may also apply.

Employment Law

Covered Employees

Brief Summary

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) 20 or more employees Prohibits discrimination based on age.  Protects individuals age 40 and over.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 15 or more employees Prohibits discrimination based on disability.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 15 or more employees Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy) and national origin.
Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA) 20 or more employees Requires employers who offer health insurance to offer continuation of coverage at group rates when an employee experiences certain “qualifying events,” such as termination of employment.
Equal Pay Act  Two or more employees Requires employers to provide equal pay for work of equal “skill, effort and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions,” with allowances for seniority, merit, etc.
Executive Order 11246 Employers with federal contracts or subcontracts worth $10,000 or more Requires employers to employ and advance individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  Employers with 50 or more employees and contracts of $50,000 or more must have a written affirmative action plan.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) All employers Notification requirements when conducting consumer investigative reports (i.e. background checks) on applicants and employees.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)/Wage & Hour All employers Sets minimum wage and overtime requirements for non-exempt personnel.  Determines who is exempt from overtime.
Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 50 or more employees Employees who meet eligibility requirements receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for birth, adoption, or serious health condition of their own or an immediate family member.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Employers with group health plans. Ensures portability of health insurance; new privacy regulations cover protected health information.
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) All employers Employers must verify identity and work eligibility of all new hires (I-9 Forms).
Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA) All employers Requires employers to provide a safe & healthy work environment; reporting requirements for certain employers.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) All employers Prohibits discrimination against employees who volunteer or are called for military duty.
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) 100 or more employees Requires employers to provide 60 days advance notice of a plant closing or mass layoff.

Source: THE EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION, 5/2008

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