Top 5 Employment Law Matters Managers Should Know

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Managers share an important role with Human Resources professionals to ensure their team and company are remaining compliant with numerous employment laws.

The following Federal Laws govern a majority of employment issues managers deal with throughout their career. It is important for individuals in a management role to become familiar with the basics of these laws and recognize when they apply.

Please keep in mind additional state and local laws may also apply.

1. Equal Employment and Anti-Discrimination

Several laws apply to both applicants and current employees that fall under equal employment and anti-discrimination.

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating or making employment decisions based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. The ADA also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the company.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals older than 40.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits job discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information.
  • The Equal Pay Act prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between males and females who perform equal work in the same workplace. This does not include pay differences due to varying levels of responsibility, duties, skills, or education requirements.

Treating all applicants and employees equally, with respect and dignity, is fundamental.

2. Wages and Hours

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the federal minimum wage (many states mandate higher minimums) and requires employers to pay nonexempt employees overtime pay of time-and-a-half for all hours worked over 40 in a work week. The FLSA also defines which employees are considered exempt (ineligible) or nonexempt (eligible) from overtime pay.

Managers should confirm employees are paid in accordance with the FLSA at least at the minimum wage rate and that their employees are paid for all hours worked including overtime when applicable.

3. Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child, for the serious health condition of the employee or a spouse, child or parent, or for a qualifying event due to the employee’s spouse, child or parent being on covered active duty as a military member. The FMLA also allows 26 weeks per year of leave for an employee caring for a spouse, child or parent that is a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.

Sick Leave Employment Law

To ensure managers remain compliant when an employee requests time off, it is important to listen for requests that could meet the FMLA qualifying criteria. Employees do not need to use the words “FMLA leave” to gain protection under the law.

4. Workplace Safety and Health

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to maintain a workplace free from serious, recognized hazards, and to comply with the safety and health regulations and standards issued by OSHA.

Managers are responsible to make sure a safe work environment is provided for employees and any safety hazards or problems are corrected as soon as possible. This includes inspecting and providing protective equipment, investigating any incidents, and reporting accidents or injuries employees have while working. It is also important to confirm employees receive applicable safety education as regulated under OSHA.

5. Employee Relations

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees’ rights to engage in collective bargaining and protected concerted activities such as complaints about unfair labor practices, grievances, and strikes for collective bargaining purposes or mutual aid and protection.

Recognizing employee’s rights relative to the NLRA, managers should not interfere with those rights and refrain from any adverse actions like discrimination against employees who engage in protected concerted activities.

1. Department of Labor
2. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
3. Employer/Union Rights and Obligations, National Labor Relations Board
4. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States DoL

This is a guest post from Alyse Scarsella, PHR, the Benefits and Recruitment Specialist at Pocket Nurse. This is part two of an occasional series on Human Resources and best hiring practices. Read part one here.

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