2019 HBCU Careers Magazine

HBCU Careers Magazine

Employment and the Law Understanding Your Rights in the Workplace

By: Simone M. Campbell

Employment law, commonly referred to as labor law, governs the duties and rights between employers and employees. It was created to ensure all employees have basic rights in the workplace, are safe and treated correctly. These rights include the right to privacy, equal compensation, and freedom from discrimination to name a few.

The Department of Labor, (DOL) administers and enforces regulations that oversee many workplace activities. There are a number of key federal laws and guidelines, employers must follow that protect employees' rights in all 50 states. Federal employment laws include but are not limited to the following: Title VII - Prohibits employers from discriminating during the hiring process based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) – Provides that an individual with a disability, who can perform essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation, cannot be discriminated against based on their disability. Disability is defined as, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) - Prohibits employers from giving preferential treatment to younger workers that is unfavorable to older workers. This law applies to employees 40 years of age and older. However, this does not prevent an employer from favoring older employees over younger employees. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - Fair Labor Standards Act is the law that governs wages. It sets the federal minimum wage (some states have higher minimums) and requires time-and-a-half overtime pay for hourly employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Provides regulation as to the length of a workday and employee breaks an employer must provide. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Allows employees to take up to 12-weeks of job protected leave of absence for qualified medical purposes. This includes pregnancy, adoption, foster care placement of a child, personal or family illness, or family military leave. To qualify for FMLA, an employee must have worked for their employer for a period of 12 full months prior to the start of the requested leave. Workplace Safety (OSHA) - The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a safe working environment for employees free of known hazards. Ability to File Claims or Complaints without Fear of Retribution - Employees have the right to file claims or complaints also called whistleblower rights against their employer without fear of retribution or retaliation. This


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