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.

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The Supreme Court and The Debate Over Joint Employment

On January 8th of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari to take another look at the case of DirecTV, LLC v. Hall. The issue in this case was whether or not the Fourth Circuit misinterpreted the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which ultimately decides minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, youth employment, and other employment issues. The FSLA issue the Supreme Court declined to hear is joint employment.
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Employees May Receive Paid Time Off in Lieu of Overtime Pay

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a law that allows private-sector employers to allow employees to earn Paid Time Off (PTO) instead of overtime pay. H.R. 1180, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017, amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Under the act, an employee may receive “compensatory time off at a rate not less than one and one-half hours” for each hour of work that overtime pay is required. This means that, instead of receiving overtime pay in their next paycheck, an employee may earn PTO that they may use at a later date that is approved by the employer.

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Federal Bill Proposal Seeks To Raise Overtime Threshold

In a combined effort to ensure overtime protections for low- and mid-wage salaried workers, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, along with eight Senate officials, recently introduced the Restoring Overtime Pay for Working Americans Act.

Presently, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guarantees a minimum wage and overtime pay for private-sector U.S. workers. However, many workers are considered “exempt” from the law, partly because of a salary threshold, $23,660 per year or $455 per week, which is specifically directed at managers and “professional” employees.

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