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Summary of Major US Employment Laws in Albany, OR

Summary of Major US Employment Laws in Albany, OR

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

This brief summary is intended to acquaint you with the major labor laws and not to offer a detailed review. For a full description of these laws, you should consult the Federal and State statutes and regulations themselves.

Ignorance and good intentions won't help you in the face of an employee lawsuit. The law requires you to treat employees in a certain way, and any failure to do that can lead to serious trouble, whether it's intentional or not.

The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates the federal minimum wage and includes requirements for overtime and how many hours employees can work. You also need to make sure your compensation structure and workplace treatment is not discriminatory across all employees regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or age. You also can't dismiss employees or applicants you are disabled without first trying to make reasonable accommodations for their needs. Both state and federal regulations prohibit you from discriminating based on a variety of factors.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates minimum acceptable standards for keeping employees safe, even in inherently dangerous fields.

There are also laws to protect employees from harassment at work. Lawsuits for harassment can be common and it's something employers should be aware of.

There are a lot of laws out there but they all get at the same basic thing: treat your employees fairly and with respect. A more detailed look at labor laws is as follows:

Wages & Hours

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prescribes standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most private and public employment. It requires employers to pay covered at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay. Some employees are exempt from the overtime pay provisions, some from both the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions and some from the child labor provisions of the FLSA.

Commissioned sales employees of retail or service establishments, well compensated computer professionals, drivers, driver's helpers, loaders and mechanics whose duties affect the safety of operation of the vehicles in transportation, farmworkers on small farms, young workers employed in small farms, with parental consent, salesmen, and mechanics employed by automobile dealerships, employees of certain seasonal and recreational establishments, and executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees are exempt from the minimum wage and/or the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA.

Workplace Safety & Health

Safety and health conditions in most private industries are regulated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or OSHA-approved state programs, which also cover public sector employers. Employers have a general duty to provide their employees with work and a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards.

Workers' Compensation

There are Federal and State statutes and regulations to mitigate the financial burden resulting from a workplace injury. These include wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, and other benefits. Individuals injured on the job while employed by private companies or state and local government agencies should contact their state workers' compensation board. The US Department of Labor administers the disability compensation programs for federal workers and their dependents.

Employee Pension & Welfare Benefit Security

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates employers who offer pension or welfare benefit plans for their employees. The main intent is to make sure that retirement programs are adequately funded. Employers and plan administrators must fund an insurance system to protect certain kinds of retirement benefits, with premiums paid to the federal government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).


The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) deals with the relationship between a union and its members. It protects union funds and promotes union democracy by requiring labor organizations to file annual financial reports, by requiring union officials, employers, and labor consultants to file reports regarding certain labor relations practices, and by establishing standards for the election of union officers.

Employee Protection

Most labor and public safety laws and many environmental laws mandate whistleblower protections for employees who complain about violations of the law by their employers. Remedies can include job reinstatement and payment of back wages. OSHA enforces the whistleblower protections in most laws.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

Certain persons who serve in the armed forces have a right to reemployment with the employer they were with when they entered service. This includes those called up from the reserves or National Guard.

Employee Polygraph Protection Act

This law bars most employers from using lie detectors on employees, but permits polygraph tests only in limited circumstances.

Garnishment of Wages

Your wages may be garnished if you owe child support, student loans, or back taxes, or a court judgment has been entered against you. A wage garnishment is when a court issues an order requiring your employer to withhold a certain amount of your paycheck and send it directly to the person or institution that you owe money, until your debt is paid off.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers of 50 or more employees to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious illness of the employee or a spouse, child, or parent.

Veterans' Preference

Veterans and other eligible persons have special employment rights with the federal government. They are provided preference in initial hiring and protection in reductions in force. Claims of violation of these rights are investigated by the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS).

Government Contracts, Grants or Financial Aid

Recipients of government contracts, grants or financial aid are subject to wage, hour, benefits, and safety and health standards.

Migrant & Seasonal Agricultural Workers

The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) provides migrant and seasonal agricultural workers with wage protections, housing and transportation safety standards, farm labor contractor registration requirements, and disclosure requirements. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts agricultural workers from overtime premium pay, but requires the payment of the minimum wage to workers employed on larger farms (more than seven full-time workers). Children under 16 are forbidden to work during school hours and in certain dangerous jobs. Children employed on their families' farms are exempt from these regulations.

Mine Safety & Health

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act holds mine operators responsible for the safety and health of miners, provides for the setting of mandatory safety and health standards, mandates miners' training requirements, prescribes penalties for violations, and enables inspectors to close dangerous mines. The safety and health standards address numerous hazards including roof falls, flammable and explosive gases, fire, electricity, equipment rollovers and maintenance, airborne contaminants, noise and inhaled dust.

Plant Closings & Layoffs

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) offers employees early warning of impending layoffs or plant closings.
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