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U.S. Employee Laws

Assembled by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

(For information about employee laws in Canada, see the Human Resources Development Canada website.)

This section of the library provides miscellaneous information which may be helpful as an overview of various aspects of business law in the United States of America. Businesses designing personnel policies should obtain advice from an attorney specializing in the area of employee laws. Businesses requiring legal advice regarding potential or current litigation should seek counsel from an attorney.

Note that employees laws apply the same to for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Sections of This Topic Include

Brief overview and history of various employee laws
Major topics and issues
Major employee laws
Employee contracts (at-will employment, non-compete agreements, etc.)
Miscellaneous links
General resources (sources with a broad variety of employee-law information)
Nonprofits - legal information with a focus on nonprofits (including info about employee laws)

Legal Guides and Links

Also consider
Related Library Topics

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Library's Human Resources Blog

Brief Overview and History of Various Employee Laws

There are a variety of federal laws, executive orders, etc., regarding the selection and treatment of individuals in the workplace. Most notable are federal laws established by the Employee Law -- Civil Rights Act of 1964
, designed to ensure equal employment opportunity (EEO). Numerous EEO guidelines are intended to provide equal opportunities without regard to race, religion, origin, sex, age or disability. The guidelines also established requirements for affirmative action, specifying that employers had to take proactive measures to ensure equal opportunity to certain protected groups. Various other laws are designed to ensure safety in the workplace, fair pay standards and fair treatment of employees providing military service.

The following brief, historical overview might give the reader some initial perspective on employee laws
Information on Federal Labor Laws and Their History

Major Topics and Issues

(Note that some or all of the following topics may be addressed in the section "Major Employee Laws" provided below.)
Affirmative Action
Age Discrimination
Disabled Workers
Discrimination (general information)
Drugs in the Workplace
Equal Employment Opportunity
HIV/AIDS in the Workplace
Preventing Violence in the Workplace
Privacy Rights
Religious Protection
Safety in the Workplace
Sexual Harassment
Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Major Employee Laws

The following is a list of many of the major employment-related laws. (Note that related information about the following laws may also be included in the above section "Major Topics and Issues".)
American with Disabilities Act (ADA) (protection of disabled citizens)
Child Labor Laws (hiring and pay of minors)
Employee Law -- Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the major act of Congress which started many employee laws)
Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA) (continuation of health benefits)
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (health insurance coverage)
Eligibility of Alien Workers in the U.S.
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) (protects against misuse of benefit plans)
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (compensation, exempt and nonexempt, overtime, etc.)
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (job-protected leave for medical emergencies)
Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA) (Worker's Compensation) (injured workers)
Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act (OSHA) (safety in the workplace)
Unemployment Compensation (benefits to qualified, unemployed workers seeking work)
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

Employee Contracts

Contracts with Employees (about "at will" employment, and includes sample contract)

Miscellaneous Links

Rights of employees in the workplace
When to file a complaint if discriminated against in the workplace
Fully Informed Jury Association
Juror's Handbook
Is that even legal?

For the Category of Legal:

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