There are several federal laws which regulate employment. The Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act are some examples, and each state has their own laws regulating employment, and even some municipalities. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay a minimum wage and overtime pay for non-exempt workers, the National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of employees to form a union while also regulating how employees, employers, and union organizers go about unionizing, and Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act both protect employees from being discriminated against because of their race, national origin, sex, disabilities, age, etc. An employment law compliance attorney can help you evaluate your business practices and make sure that they are in compliance with federal legislation. If your business is not in compliance, you can face litigation from your employees or the government.
Fair Labor Standards Act
The FLSA establishes a minimum wage that employees must be paid. It differs depending on the type of work and whether the employee is under 18. Under the FLSA, an employee who is underage must be paid at least $4.25 an hour for their first 90 days of employment. Employees who earn tips can be paid $2.13 per hour, but when combined with tips they must earn at least $7.25 per hour. The federal minimums do not necessarily reflect the minimums of your state. Virginia, for instance, as of 2022, has a minimum wage of $11.00 an hour. In general, the wage that is higher is controlling, and should be the one you pay your employees. The FLSA also defines overtime as any time worked beyond 40 hours a week. Each hour of overtime should be paid at a rate of 1½ times their regular pay. If an employee earns $8.00 an hour, they should be paid $12.00 an hour for any overtime hours. If an employee is paid on a salary basis, they still need to be paid overtime if they’re non-exempt. To find out what an employee is owed for overtime, you need to divide their weekly salary by the actual number of hours they worked. You then divide that in half for the overtime rate, because the 1 of the 1½ has already been paid to them. Once you find the overtime rate, you multiply that by the salary for the week and that’s the overtime pay they’re owed. So, if someone worked 60 hours a week and were paid $600.00, the actual rate they were paid was $10.00 an hour, the overtime rate would be $5.00, and because they worked 20 hours of overtime that means they are owed $100.00 in overtime pay. Failing to follow this law can result in employees suing for unpaid overtime, which can stretch back 2 years for non-willful violations and 3 for willful violations. These damages can also be multiplied by 3 times as punishment for violations. So, if you have 10 employees regularly underpaid $100.00 a week for three years, that can be a $104,000.00 lawsuit. An employment compliance attorney can help you determine what the minimum wage you should pay your employees is, and which of your employees are exempt from overtime and which of them are not.
National Labor Relations Act
The National Labor Relations Act guarantees workers the right to organize, for employers who meet certain standards. Not all employers earn enough revenue to be controlled by the act, which is true for all of the employment acts. There are several regulations on how employees can organize, how employers can influence employees, and how labor unions can conduct their work. A general rule of thumb would be that it is unlawful for an employer to interfere with employee’s organizing. This has been broadly interpreted by courts to include things like employees discussing wages. It would be a violation of the act to ban employees from discussing their wages during work, but if there is a legitimate reason, such as banning discussion of wages while in front of customers/clients, then it could be permissible. Currently there are no civil penalties for violations of the NLRA, nor are there private causes of action, but businesses can be required to allow employees to make a second vote on unionization and other non-monetary penalties. An employment law compliance attorney can help you make sure your business is compliant with the NLRA and avoid any problems with the NLRB.
Title VII and the ADA
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees on the basis of their race, sex, national origin, religion, disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation. While Title VII does not include in its text gender identity or sexual orientation, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation were necessarily sex-based discrimination. This means you cannot refuse to hire someone because of the above reasons, but it also means that you cannot use means to determine who to hire that inadvertently discriminates against them. Let’s say you create a written test within your company that you use to help determine who to hire and who not to hire. For every 10 white people who take that test, 7 pass. But, for every 10 Hispanic people to take the test, 4 pass. This could be an example of unintentional discrimination, which can leave you open for litigation from employees or, potentially, from the government. An employment law compliance attorney can help you evaluate your business practices and make sure that you are compliant with Title VII, the ADA, and any local laws that might include more protected classes.