What Federal Laws Protect You in the Workplace?

The United States has developed a system of laws and regulations that have contributed to safeguarding an employee’s status in the workplace. These laws protect employees from illegal hiring and firing and allow employees to bring civil cases in court against their employers for unfair labor practices. Federal statutes pertaining to employment law include, but are not limited to:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • Family and Medical Leave Act;
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964; and
  • Americans with Disabilities Act.


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was established in 1938 to create a federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards. The provisions in this statute affect both full and part-time workers across the United States. The federal minimum wage in the United States is currently $7.25 and is routinely reviewed by legislators. Each state, however, can set their own minimum wage, depending on the cost of living for the area. For instance, New York State is in the process of raising the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was established to provide equal protection of all under the laws. This act was enacted amid widespread racial issues that negatively affected the country. The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and race during all hiring, promoting, and firing processes. Also stemming from the creation of this act was the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC strictly monitors employment practices, including hiring, promoting, and firing, on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created in 1990 with the idea to protect America’s disabled class from discriminatory practices. A main portion of the act involves anti-discriminatory hiring, training, promoting, and firing techniques in the workplace. The ADA requires that reasonable accommodations be made for those with disabilities in the workplace.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was established in 1993, applies to companies with 50 or more employees, and allows for eligible employees to take a twelve-week, unpaid, job-protected leave of absence for the birth of a child, a medical illness of the employee or an employee’s loved one (specifically, an employee’s dependent), or exigency arising out of covered military service of the employee’s spouse, child, or parent. This act also allows for 26 weeks of leave during a single calendar year to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness, if the servicemember is the employee’s spouse, child, or parent. New York has recently passed a Paid Family Leave Program, which can be further explained in a past blog titled, “New York State’s Paid Family Leave Program Begins.”

If you believe that you have been unfairly treated in the workplace by an employer, it is crucial that you speak to an experienced employment attorney who can help you receive the justice and compensation you deserve. For 38 years, Steven Mitchell Sack, The Employee’s Lawyer™, has been successful in handling thousands of employment law cases and may be able to help enforce your rights as an employee. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (917) 371-8000 or fill out our contact form.

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