64 terms

Workplace Law


Terms in this set (...)

Department of Labor
a government agency that exists on both state and federal levels. At the federal level, the organization administers more than 180 federal laws that affect approximately 10 million employers and 125 million workers.

As a government agency, the Department of Labor has as its mission promoting the well-being of employment-seeking individuals, wage earners, and retired individuals in the United States. Its laws establish rights for child workers, workers with new families, and workers dealing with harassment in the workplace.

The Department of Labor also is responsible for regulations that protect healthcare and retirement benefits, and it outlines effective guidelines for the hiring and firing of employees.
Acts and Regulations
The Department of Labor is responsible for creating and enforcing a number of acts and regulations that ensure the well-being of workers.
Although more than 180 of those regulations exist on the federal level, this lesson will focus on the most common regulations affecting the broadest range of workers. Those include:
Occupational Safety and Health Act

Fair Labor Standards Act

Employee Retirement Income Security Act

Family and Medical Leave Act
What is the overall function of the Department of Labor?
create and enforce workplace safety regulations
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act
is concerned with the safety and health conditions in the majority of private-sector industries. It is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and enforced at both federal and state levels. OSHA provides training, education, outreach, and assistance to ensure that employers abide by OSHA regulations.
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act is administered by which agency?
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Protecting Employers and Employees
OSHA performs workplace inspections to ensure that employers are providing a workplace that is free from recognized serious hazards; this is their duty under the OSH Act. The act also requires that assigned work follows the same regulations.
Inspections are unannounced and can be done via phone or in person. OSHA inspections do not affect self-employed workers, workers of family farms, or government workers. During those inspections, the primary concerns are:
Worker complaints and/or referrals

Imminent danger

Employers with high rates of reported injuries


Follow-up inspections
OSHA and Health Science Careers
The health and social sciences industry sees more injuries among workers than any other sector; in 2010, the industry reported more than 650,000 cases of injury or illness in the workplace.

Much of that is due to the nature of the health science industry. Workers frequently come into contact with infections, chemical and drug exposures, and hazards from X-rays and other radioactive materials.
Which of the following has the highest number of workplace-related injuries and illnesses, per year?
health/social sciences
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
is administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor and sets standards in a number of areas that include:

Minimum wage

Overtime pay


Youth employment
Minimum wage
defined as the least amount an employer can legally pay an employee, and it must be calculated daily, weekly, or monthly.

Although the FLSA is a federal mandate, individual states may set their own minimum wage requirements as long as they are no less than the federally mandated rate.

FLSA requires that employers pay employees a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and compensate employees at a rate of one and a half times the employee's regular rate of pay for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Hours in excess of 40 per week are known as overtime.
Exempt and Non-Exempt Workers
Exceptions to minimum wage and overtime rules set by the FLSA do exist.
Those exceptions may include:

Certain healthcare workers

Salaried employees

Agricultural workers

Marine/maritime workers
exempt workers
Workers who are exceptions to the FLSA rules are known as exempt workers
non-exempt workers.
Workers who are subject to FLSA rules are known as non-exempt workers.
FLSA and Home Healthcare Employee Exemptions
Those employers providing home healthcare services to individuals who are unable to care for themselves are not required to pay the federal minimum wage, nor overtime pay, depending on the nature of the services provided.

Examples of exemptions include:

Companionship services providers

Registered nurses, certified nurse aides, and home health aides when they are considered salaried professionals
A grocery store clerk being paid by the hour is .
A home healthcare aide is .
A cargo ship captain is .
Child Labor Laws
The Department of Labor also is responsible for setting and monitoring the laws that establish the boundaries for the employment of children. As with the minimum wage standards, the FLSA also protects children. In addition to safety, the law's primary concern is that a youth worker's educational opportunities are protected and will not be sacrificed for the sake of employment.
The FLSA specifies the following protections for children:
Employment in jobs detrimental to the child's health and safety is prohibited.

Employment in non-agricultural jobs for those under the age of 14 is prohibited.

Hours worked for employees under the age of 16 are limited.

Working in hazardous jobs as identified by the FLSA when the employee is under the age of 18 is prohibited.
are people under the age of 18, often work in healthcare settings in nonhazardous jobs. Those jobs include positions in the dietary or housekeeping departments.

Minors in healthcare positions never should be asked to operate or clean a power-driven hoist apparatus, which is used to lift patients in the healthcare setting, collect laboratory trash, or drive a motor vehicle as a regular part of a job.
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
of 1974 is a federally established law under the Department of Labor. It is enforced by the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

This law sets a minimum standard for retirement plans across the private sector. While it does not require any employer to establish a retirement plan for employees, it does set forth minimum standards for employers who choose to do so.

ERISA requires employees to be regularly provided with information about the plan and its funding options, sets minimum standards for participation and for disclosure of information, and gives employees the right to sue in the event of a breach of responsibility.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993
a law established by the Department of Labor that provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year to an employee for specific family and personal reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, the illness of a family member, or a serious health condition.

FMLA also guarantees that the employee will be permitted to return to his or her job, in the same position, after the 12 weeks has expired and that health benefits will remain in place, uninterrupted.

FMLA applies to:

All public and private employers with 50 or more employees working within a 75-mile radius

Employees who have worked for their employer for a total of 12 months; the months do not need to be consecutive

Employees who have logged at least 1,250 hours in the last consecutive months
A 16-year-old employee asked to drive a delivery van
child labor
A non-exempt employee
minimum wage
An employee adopting a child
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
an independent federal agency charged with enforcing federal laws dealing with discrimination. Based on this law, a job applicant may not be discriminated against for any of the following reasons:




Sex (including pregnancy)

National origin


Disability or genetic information

It is important to note that this protection also extends to any job applicant who has previously complained about discrimination or has been part of a discrimination lawsuit.
EEOC Protections
EEOC laws apply to most companies with 15 or more employees; in the case of age discrimination, the threshold is 20 employees. In addition, nearly all labor and union employees - those who are represented by organizations that negotiate wages and benefits, among other things, on their behalf - are covered.

In addition to creating and enforcing discrimination laws, the EEOC also investigates cases of discrimination and all types of harassment.
Which of the following does the EEOC protect against?
discrimination due to race
discrimination due to age
affirmative action policies
Established by the federal government, were created to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, people with disabilities, and veterans.

Those policies consider:





National origin

Although affirmative action is seen as a positive step for equality in the workplace, it can also create controversy.

Promoters of affirmative action believe that it promotes social equality and increases opportunities and education for minority job applicants traditionally faced with discrimination.

Opponents argue that affirmative action can give an unfair advantage to higher-income minorities while overlooking the needs of lower-income non-minorities.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
ensures that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees with a disability as long as it does not create a serious hardship for the employer or other employees.

It is important to note that the ADA does not give preferential treatment to applicants with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to companies with 15 or more employees.
Which of the following statements are true about the Americans with Disabilities Act?
-Employers should select the most qualified candidates without regard to disability.
-The ADA applies to companies with 15 or more employees.
Types of Workplace Harassment
Harassment in the workplace can take many forms. It is considered to be a form of discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Harassment can be verbal or physical and generally falls under the category of sexual or non-sexual. Harassment often is based on sex, religion, or race.

Workplace harassment is broken down into two categories: hostile work environment and quid pro quo.
hostile work environment
occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on legally protected characteristics, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, etc., interferes with an employee's performance or creates an intimidating, or hostile, workplace.

For example, if derogatory comments are made about same-sex relationships in a work environment, any who support this lifestyle may be offended or uncomfortable; another example would be derogatory racial statements made by an employee.

That type of harassment is not committed by any one type of employee; the offending party can be a manager, an employee, a contractor, or even a vendor. And the victim of the harassment is not always simply the person the conduct was directed toward; it can be anyone affected by the conduct.
Using racist slang, phrases, or nicknames is .
Telling an employee he or she has done a good job is .
not harassment
Making offensive gestures is .
Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment laws are part of the discrimination laws set forth by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and remedies exist on both a federal and state level. Protections apply to companies with 15 or more employees.

Sexual harassment includes unwanted and uninvited comments, conduct, or behavior. There are no limitations to who the offending party can be; it can be a man or woman and includes vendors, contractors, and even customers. In sexual harassment cases, the offending conduct is in regard to the gender, sex, or sexual orientation of the victim.

In most cases, the victim is the subordinate while the offender is a superior in terms of power and position.

It is important to note that protections under this law do not consider simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents to be unlawful. The conduct becomes unlawful when it is so severe and frequent that the workplace environment becomes hostile or offensive.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Below are some examples of what is, and what is not, considered sexual harassment in the workplace. It is important to remember that the conduct must be severe and it must be pervasive. A single incident may not constitute sexual harassment, but multiple occurrences may.

Sexual Harassment

Jonathan purposefully and repeatedly touches Jennifer inappropriately.

Samantha makes sexually suggestive comments about Timothy's physique.

Tora posts a sexually suggestive cartoon on her office wall and will not take it down, despite being asked to do so.

Not Sexual Harassment

Janie notices that Zander is wearing a new suit and tells him it looks nice on him.

Shawn is distraught about the passing of a friend. Samantha gives him a hug to console him and he reciprocates the embrace.

Wendy accidentally touches Brandon inappropriately and immediately apologizes.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment is frequently associated with sexual harassment, but it is not limited to sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo comes from Latin and literally means, "something for something."

In the workplace, quid pro quo harassment occurs when a favor is explicitly requested in return for something else.

The exchange can happen between any two employees, vendors, contractors, or customers.

Examples of quid pro quo:

A supervisor offers a promotion to an employee in exchange for sexual favors.

An employee offers an exclusive contract to a supply vendor in exchange for season-long courtside seats to the NBA.

It is important to remember that quid pro quo is not always sexual in nature nor does it always constitute harassment or a hostile workplace.

Quid pro quo harassment very often is sexual in nature, however.
Response to Harassment
If any employee, in any position, feels harassed in any manner, the victim:

Should tell the harasser that the conduct is unwanted and that it must stop immediately.

Can use any available company or employer complaint system.

Must be sure the complaint is well documented and in writing.

If the victim is unsuccessful in stopping the harasser, the victim should contact the EEOC or the equivalent state agency.

Bystanders to harassment also are able to, and should, file complaints through appropriate channels.
Lily's female colleague shows her a video she found online that reflects derogatory remarks about the homosexual population. Lily asks the colleague to turn it off and she refuses.
hostile work enviroment
Jeff's female supervisor offers to promote him if he pretends to be her husband and accompanies her to an exclusive engagement.
quid pro quo
Many different types of workplace regulations exist. Which of these are specifically covered by the federal government?
child labor laws
hostile work environments
Family Medical Leave Act
Many regulations protect youth workers. Which of the following specifically apply to child labor laws?
regulated work hours
specific tasks that can be performed
specified age at which one can work
Joseph is an employee at a women's clothing store. A female co-worker repeatedly asks Joseph questions about their lingerie line, and which pieces he would recommend she purchase for herself. Joseph is uncomfortable with the situation. What is the first step he should take to rectify it?
Tell the coworker to stop because he is uncomfortable.
Janine is a long-standing employee with ABC Packing, Inc., a large company. She was recently involved in an accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Janine will now use a wheelchair when she returns to work. What should her employer do to assist Janine?
Make necessary changes to allow Janine to comfortably return to work.
Thomas is a 14-year-old student who applies for a job operating machinery at a local grocery store. Though he would make a good employee, the store manager declines to hire him. What law is this based on?
child labor
A local law firm is hiring a junior attorney. In its recruitment ad, the firm specifically states, "Women and minorities are encouraged to apply." What regulation would motivate this printed statement?
Affirmative action
_______ is a law that allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child.
___________ requires accommodations be made for employees with disabilities.
____________ dictates the minimum wage an employer can pay an employee.
__________ is associated with safety regulations in the workplace.
An employee is offered paid time off in return for sexual favors.
quid pro quo
An employee discusses her disapproval of same-sex marriage to an openly gay employee.
hostile work environment
A customer repeatedly asks a company secretary out on a date, despite being told to stop
hostile work environment
Which of the following do proponents of Affirmative Action say are benefits of the policy?
advances opportunities for minorities
promotes social equality
increases educational opportunities for minorities
Which of the following do opponents of Affirmative Action say are consequences of the policy?
can create controversy when seen as preferential treatment
may disadvantage low-income nonminorities
Sets minimum wage.
Regulates use of certain chemicals.
Oversees child labor laws.
Ensures a workplace is safe.
Enforces overtime pay.