Employment Law

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Employment Law

Employment law regulates the relationships between employers and employees and covers thousands of federal and state statutes. The laws set forth protect the proper handling between employers and employees. Lawyer One has a wide arrange of lawyers who are qualified to help you with any of your needs surrounding employment law.

Minimum wage laws provide the lowest hourly wage an employer can pay their employees for work. The federal minimum wage for any nonexempt employee is $7.25 hourly. Legally your employer must pay you the federal minimum wage if the state you’re in has yet to develop their state minimum wage. Certain exemptions apply to full-time students, workers under the age of 20, tipped employees, student learners, and workers with disabilities.

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Major United States Employment Law Exemptions

Full-time Students

Full-time students can receive a certificate from the Department of Labor that makes it so the student can’t be paid less than 85 percent of the minimum wage whether the employer goes by state or federal minimum wage does not matter. There are more rules set in place for this specific exemption when school is in session the student can’t work more than 8 hours a day and 20 hours weekly and no more than 40 hours when school is out.

Workers Under the Age of 20

During their first 90 days on the job, workers under the age of 20 can be making the minimum wage of $4.25. Once the 90 days are up or they turn 20- whichever comes first, the young employee will make $7.25 an hour.

Tipped Employees

A tipped employee must legally make no less than $2.13 hourly in direct wages, as long as that plus the amount of tips they make is equal to the federal minimum wage. If the employee’s tips plus any tips do not match or surpass the federal minimum wage, the employer must make up whatever difference remains. There are times where individual states have their minimum wage laws for any tipped employees. When there are both state and federal wage laws where the employee is working, the law with greater benefits will apply to them.

Student Learners

Student learners are at the youngest 16 years old and are involved in vocational education also known as shop courses. The student working these programs can make no less than 75% of the minimum wage while enrolled.

Workers with Disabilities.

Workers with disabilities are people impaired physically or mentally. Just because a worker has a disability does not mean they should receive a subminimum wage payment as long as they can still perform the job in a productive capacity.

Overtime pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act states that an employer is required to pay employees time and a half for any excess amount of time worked over 40 hours in the week. Employees are not limited to 40 hours and they can work as much as they want as long as overtime pay is provided from the employer. Saturday and Sunday do not qualify as overtime worked unless the employee is already over the 40 hours required to qualify.

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining is the process of negotiating compensation between employers and employees. The items that can be a part of the negation include the salaries, benefits, and working conditions.

Civil rights considerations

Employees have First Amendment rights, but employers have the right to do their business practices without the interference of their employees. Civil rights protect an employee’s right to privacy as well which grants them the right to keep what’s in their bags and what they’re discussing on their phones private.


Family and medical leave

The United States does not require paid medical leave yet, the Federal and Medical Leave Act or FMLA for short was created to help. The FMLA gave employees the ability to take unpaid leave with job protection for medical or family reasons, just as long as the reason is specified. The Act grants employees 12 workweeks of leave within 12 months.

Approved reasons for leave include:

  • Maternity leave (must be used within one year of the birth to be valid)
  • If an employee gets placed with an adopted or foster child (Must also be within the first year of placement)
  • If an employee’s child, spouse, or parent has a serious health condition and needs to be cared for.
  • An urgent matter arises surrounding the employee’s family member being an active duty military member.
  • If an employee is a servicemembers spouse, daughter, son, parent, or kin 26 workweeks of leave during 12 months can be used to care for the servicemember.

Safe working conditions

OSHA the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 protects employees from predictable hazards at work including conditions that are likely to cause injuries like, extreme temperatures- hot or cold, chemicals, noise, and sanitation problems. OSHA was set in place to have workers be protected from resources outside of their workplace. If an employee needs to report something to OSHA their employer cannot punish or fire them for the report.

Employers can’t discriminate based on protected characteristics

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has federal laws set in place prohibiting discrimination. Discrimination is not tolerated towards employees in the workplace, the laws about discrimination in the workplace vary from state to state but the basis of things that cannot be discriminated against includes race, religion, age, color, sex, or national origin. Some of the main laws that are set in place to protect workers against discrimination include:

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act:

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects against discrimination while pregnant on any level during employment. This includes hiring, firing, job assignments, pay, layoffs, promotions, training, and fringe benefits, like paid and unpaid leave as well as health insurance. If for whatever reason the pregnancy causes impairments that leave the pregnant person unable to fully perform the job as usual, like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes the employer may treat that employee like they do for any other temporarily disabled employee. Some impairments caused by pregnancy also could qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In that case, the employer must provide reasonable accommodation like leave or job modifications that make it possible for the employee to work.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

This act makes it illegal to discriminate against someone due to their race, sex, color, religion, or national origin. This act makes it possible for workers to file a claim without fear of retaliation because they are protected under this law.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA):

This act ensures that men and women will receive the same pay when they are performing the same jobs and protects from a wage gap based solely on gender.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA):

This title prohibits the discrimination of people with disabilities when hiring or during the time that they are employed.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA): 

Protects employees and potential employees who are age 40 and up from being discriminated against in the workplace.

Employment Law Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If I’m laid off, does my employer owe me severance?
A deal to have severance would be made between you and the employer beforehand to have it in place. If you don’t remember having this type of negotiation at the start of your job then chances are you don’t have severance. If you don’t have a severance deal in place then your employer is only required to pay the wages that are owed to you from the time worked and vacation time saved.
How does the process work?
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What is the statute of limitations for bringing an unemployment lawsuit?
The statute of limitations depends on the type of employment lawsuit that is being brought forward. Another important factor is whether the lawsuit will be under state or federal law. For matters dealing with federal law, you have 180 days to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) but if the state or local area you live in has laws against the type of discrimination you experienced than the 180 days is extended to 300 days.
Are unpaid internships legal?
Yes, as long as they meet six standards put forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

  1. The work must be beneficial for the intern.
  2. The environment of the internship must be educational.
  3. The intern must be closely supervised.
  4. There have been no promises of a job made to the intern.
  5. The employer does not receive an instant advantage from the work of an intern.
  6. Both the supervisor and the intern understand and agree that the internship is unpaid.
Can my employer run a background check on me?
The Federal law allows employers to run background checks on any potential employees so long as the employer has notified and received written consent from the person. If the company decides not to hire you because of something they found on your background check they are required to inform you due to rules set forth by the Federal Trade Commission.
Should I be receiving overtime?
If you are a non-exempt employee working over 40 hours in a workweek, you must be paid time and a half every hour. If your employer has posted a rule prohibiting an employee from working overtime, you will not be protected.
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