When the National Labor Relations Act, as amended (NLRA, TaftHartley Act), was enacted in 1935, legal compliance governing employment was fairly simple for the corporation, and remained so even when the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted in 1944. However, beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers have been faced with and must continue to address an escalating myriad of laws regulating employment decisions, ranging from the placement of a want ad to the value of pension benefits. Often, city, state and federal laws that apply simultaneously create potential confusion.
Major Federal Laws
1. NLRA: Protects employees' rights to form and join a labor organization.
2. FLSA: Requires a specified minimum wage, as well as overtime pay.
3. Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA): Regulates employee benefit plans that enjoy tax advantages.
4. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO):
a. Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII, Pregnancy Discrimination Act [PDAj): Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, national origin and religion.
b. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): Prohibits discrimination against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities and requires reasonable accommodations.
c. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): Prohibits discrimination on the basis of age against employees aged 40 or older.
d. Equal Pay Act (EPA): Requires equal pay for equal work by both sexes.
e. Civil Rights Acts of 1866,1870 and 1871 (42 U.S.C. Sections 1981,1982 and 1983 adopted following the Civil War): Provide that all persons shall have the same right to make and enforce contracts as enjoyed by white citizens.
5. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Requires up to 12 weeks of leave each year for the care of family members and self with serious health conditions, as well as births, adoptions and newborn care.
6. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA): Requires compliance with regulations to minimize workplace injury and illness.
Potential Problem Examples
1. Employee Participation Programs: Employee participation programs often face legal barriers from the NLRA which prohibits company-dominated, inhouse unions. The National Labor Relations Board recently held that an employer violated the NLRA by establishing and supporting an employee action committee to address concerns such as absenteeism, smoking policies, pay progressions, and attendance bonus programs. …