Employment Law Compliance Attorney
There are several state and federal laws that regulate employment. Some, like the National Labor Relations Act, regulates the operation of unions and the conduct of employees and employers with respect to unionization. The Fair Labor Standards Act established the federal minimum wage and federal overtime laws, as well as who qualifies for each. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, though recent Supreme Court rulings also include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Americans with Disabilities act also protects disabled employees from discrimination. The Occupational Safety and Health Act established the Occupational the Occupational Safety and Health Administration within the Department of Labor to oversee working conditions and ensure that workplaces are not a hazard to the employees. Violations of these acts carry different consequences; for some, there are no monetary damages, but instead orders to cease, desist, and rectify the violation. For others, there can be litigation, either by private parties or the federal government, and even in extreme cases, criminal charges (though this is solely for OSHA violations). Most states also have equivalent state laws, some of which can have more restrictions than federal regulations. That’s why it’s important to have an employment law compliance attorney evaluate your business practices to ensure that you are in compliance. Below are some quick insights into some of the federal employment laws.
The National Labor Relations Act
For employers, the National Labor Relations Act regulates how you can approach employees who are organizing. For one thing, the law expressly forbids employers from blanketly banning discussion of salaries. Federal and administrative law judges have said that discussion of salary is one of the cornerstones of labor organizing, and a blanket ban is unlawful interference with employee organizing. It is not unlawful to request workers not discuss salary in certain contexts. For instance, it is not unlawful for an employer to require employees not discuss salaries while customers can hear. There are no monetary penalties for violations, though there have been attempts by congress to amend the act to include civil penalties, but it is within the power of the National Labor Relations Board to require employers to comply with the law, and failure to comply with the administrative order can cause civil penalties. It’s important for employers to consult with an employment law compliance attorney to make sure that they
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act established the minimum wage and overtime. After several revisions, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25. There are some exceptions to this minimum wage. For instance, employees who receive tips can receive a tipped minimum wage, which is set at $2.13. Employers can pay employees who make more than $30.00 monthly in tips $2.13, so long as the combined wages and tips are equal to or greater than minimum wage. For example, if your employee works 40 hours a week, their combined tips and salary need to be equal to or greater than $290.00. The most important thing to remember about overtime is, except in certain situations, workers who are paid a regular weekly salary instead of an hourly wage still need to be paid overtime. The way you calculate overtime for a salaried employee is fairly simple. You divide their weekly salary by 40 to get their hourly wage, then you multiply that by 1.5 to get the overtime wage, and then you multiply the overtime wage by the number of overtime hours they worked. Let’s say you pay an employee $1,000.00 a week, and they worked 50 hours one week. $1,000.00 divided by 40 is $25.00 for the hourly wage. Multiply that by 1.5 and you get an overtime wage of $37.50, and with 10 hours of overtime that means they need to be paid $375.00 in addition to the $1,000.00 salary. If you fail to pay workers that are entitled to minimum wage and/or overtime the wages they’re owed, you can be sued by your workers. You can potentially be liable for double their unpaid wages for the previous two years of unpaid wages (three if they can prove that you intentionally violated the law), for any employee who joins the litigation. That can potentially be hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. Consulting with an employment law compliance attorney can help you make sure that you’re in compliance and avoid such harsh penalties.
This is only a brief discussion of some of the issues associated with some of the federal employment laws. Some state laws are harsher towards employers, such as Virginia’s Overtime Wage Act which removed a lot of federal exemptions to overtime and alternative methods of calculating overtime that were not mentioned above. Some laws are far too complex for a short blog post to go into, such as OSHA regulations and the consequences for non-compliance.