In the not-so-distant past, American workers faced significant challenges in the workplace, with little to no legal ground to stand on regarding safety, benefits, and equitable treatment. Recognizing the need for reform, the United States Congress stepped in to transform the landscape of labor laws, introducing more robust protections for employees across the nation.
By 2021, the legislative framework supporting workers’ rights had grown to include over 180 laws, with six pivotal statutes forming the bedrock of these protections. Read on to learn more about the laws that protect you and contact PLBH at (800) 435-7542 for a free legal consultation if you need to speak to an employment attorney.
The Advent of the Minimum Wage
The cornerstone of American labor law is undoubtedly the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This act introduced the concept of a minimum wage, ensuring that workers received fair compensation for their labor. While the federal baseline wage has not changed since 2009, state-led initiatives have elevated the minimum wage to between 12 and 15 dollars per hour in various regions. The FLSA additionally shields young workers from exploitation, setting stringent rules for their employment.
Enhancing Workplace Safety
The Occupational Safety and Health Act, enacted in 1970, was a game-changer for workplace safety. This law imposed a duty on employers to minimize occupational hazards, aiming to reduce the frequency of work-related accidents. The enforcement of these regulations falls to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which holds most businesses accountable for providing a safe working environment, excluding small family farms and self-employed individuals.
Securing Employee Health Benefits
A more recent addition to the worker protection repertoire is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which underscored the importance of health insurance for employees at medium to large-sized businesses. The act’s Employer Shared Responsibility Payment requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer a certain level of health insurance or face hefty fines.
The Provision of Social Security
During the depths of the Great Depression, the Social Security Act was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, creating a financial lifeline for retirees and disabled individuals. Funded by both employer payroll taxes and employee contributions, Social Security serves as a critical support system, with statistics from June 2020 showing that approximately 64 million Americans benefit from the program.
Upholding Whistleblower Rights
Federal laws also protect employees who bravely report legal violations within their organizations. These whistleblower protections are integrated into various statutes, including the Clean Air Act and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program plays a central role in managing complaints regarding health and safety infractions.
Combating Discrimination in Employment
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 stands as a monumental statute prohibiting employment discrimination on the grounds of age, race, gender, religion, and more. With the evolution of case law and Supreme Court decisions post-2009, the protections against workplace discrimination have been further reinforced, ensuring a fairer employment landscape.
The Bottom Line
The era when employers could easily exploit their workers has been replaced by a time where numerous laws empower employees to address injustices within the labor sector. For those in California, where state laws often offer even stronger employee safeguards, any breach of the aforementioned laws by an employer is a serious matter. Seeking the counsel of a knowledgeable employment attorney is crucial in these instances.
For legal assistance, reach out to PLBH by filling out our online form or by giving us a call at (800) 435-7542. Our team is dedicated to ensuring your rights as an employee are protected and upheld.