Labor laws

A summary of some of the laws administered by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has been provided below. These laws apply to workers, job seekers, businesses, retirees, contractors, and grantees.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws. These mandates and the regulations that implement them cover many workplace activities for about 150 million workers and 10 million workplaces.

Wages & Hours

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lays down the standard for wages and overtime in most private and public sector employment. The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) looks after its daily affairs.
  • Employers will have to pay non-exempt, covered employees the "federal minimum wage" and overtime pay that is "one-and-one-half-times" the regular rate of pay (compensation).
  • In non-agricultural operations, children under 16 years can work for a limited number of hours, and those below 18 years are prohibited from working in specific "too dangerous" sectors.
  • Children under 16 years can't work in agri-business during school hours & in "too dangerous" jobs.
  • Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)'s labor standards are enforced by the Wage and Hour Division. It applies to aliens having an authorized work permit in the U.S under selected non-immigrant visa programs such as H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C, and H2A.

Workplace Safety & Health

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administers the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.
  • OSHA or OSHA-approved state programs regulate safety and health conditions in many private and public sector employers. It's mandatory for the OSH Act-covered employers to comply with all the OSHA promulgated regulations and safety and health standards.
  • Employers must ensure their employees work free from "identified, serious workplace hazards."
  • OSHA enforces the law via regular workplace inspections and investigations.
  • Employers are provided with the necessary compliance assistance and various cooperative programs.

Workers Compensation

A worker can and should contact the workers' compensation program in their domicile state or the state where they have worked, regardless of whether the employer is a privately-held organization or a state one. The DOL and the Office of Worker's Compensation Programs have no role in the administration or inspection of state worker's compensation programs.

The Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). The law ensures compensation and medical care for certain maritime employees.

  • These employees are longshore workers/others employed in longshore operations and harbor workers like shipbuilders, ship repairers, and shipbreakers.
  • The benefit is also provided to the qualified dependent survivors of these workers who have been disabled or died because of injuries occurring on the navigable waters of the United States as well as the adjacent areas usually used to load, unload, repair, or build a vessel.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its affiliates provide worker's compensation through the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA)

  • Grants a lump-sum amount of $150,000 and various medical aids to energy employees.
  • Some selected cancer survivors are provided the same compensation package caused due to exposure to harmful radiation, beryllium, or silica during active duty.
  • Under Section 5 of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), an additional payment of a lump-sum amount of $50,000 along with the medical care benefits are provided to the uranium workers or some of their survivors, as per the recommendations made by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as compensation.

The 5 U.S.C. 8101 et Esq. delivers a comprehensive compensation program exclusively for the federal workers who died or became disabled due to personal injury sustained during active duty known as the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA)

  • The OWCP administers the FECA.
  • Compensations include wage loss compensation for the totally or partially disabled worker, scheduled awards for permanent loss or loss of particular body members, associated medical expenses, and vocational rehabilitation.

The Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA) grants medical benefits and monthly cash payments for the disability of the coal miners due to pneumoconiosis or black lung disease resulting from working in the country's coal mines. As per the statutes, if a miner dies because of black lung disease, their survivor will receive additional monthly benefits too.

Employee Benefit Security

To provide pension or welfare benefit plans to workers employed in the private industry, ERISA or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 stipulates minimum standards for many voluntarily-owned pension and health plans. 

ERISA doesn't provide health care coverage to workers pursuing group health plans offered or administered by governmental bodies, churches, or workers paying for plans maintained entirely to comply with the respective compensation, unemployment, or disability laws. ERISA also doesn't provide health coverage or unfunded excess benefit plans to nonresident aliens outside the US.

Employee Protection

The whistleblower protections will safeguard employees who report legal violations by their employers under the majority of labor, public safety, and environmental laws.

Back pay and job reinstatement are examples of possible remedies. OSHA enforces the majority of laws' whistleblower protections.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

Certain military personnel has the right to reapply for work with the organization they worked for before joining the armed forces. Those recalled from the National Guard or reserves are included in this.

The Veterans' Employment and Training Service is responsible for administering these rights.

Employee Polygraph Protection Act

This law forbids most businesses from employing lie detectors on their workers, although it allows polygraph testing under specific conditions.

The Wage and Hour Division handles its administration.

Garnishment of Wages

The Consumer Credit Protection Act, supervised by the Wage and Hour Division, regulates employer wage garnishment.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which the Wage and Hour Division governs, mandates that employers with 50 or more workers must offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to qualified staff for the birth or adoption of a child as well as for serious illnesses affecting the worker, a spouse, child, or parent.

Veterans' Preference

Veterans and other qualified individuals enjoy unique job privileges with the federal government. They are given precedence in initial recruiting and security during force cutbacks.

The Veterans' Employment and Training Service investigates complaints about violating these rights.

Government Contracts, Grants, or Financial Aid

Wage, hour, benefit, safety, and health regulations apply to anyone who receives government contracts, grants, or financial help under:

  • The Davis-Bacon Act mandates that workers of contractors working on federal government construction projects get prevailing rates and benefits;
  • The McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act establishes pay scales and additional labor requirements for personnel of contractors providing services to the federal government; and
  • The Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act mandates that companies supplying goods and services to the federal government provide minimum wages and adhere to other labor laws.

These laws are administered by the Wage and Hour Division.

The majority of federal contractors, subcontractors, and federally assisted construction contractors are required to provide equal job opportunities under three federal contract-based civil rights laws, which are administered and enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Receivers of federal financial assistance from the Department of Labor are required to provide equal opportunity under several federal assistance-based civil rights laws, which are administered and enforced by the Civil Rights Center of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management.

Consumer laws

Consumer Credit Protection Act

The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) guarantees consumers fair and honest credit practices and ensures lenders follow the same sets of regulations throughout the country.

Several acts within CCPA are as follows:

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

  • FCRA regulates how a private business uses your personal information.
  • It'll protect your credit by regulating how consumer reporting agencies use your data.
  • You can sue the rogue credit reporting agency and seek compensation for violating the FCRA.
  • FCRA provides a free credit report per annum, secure access to credit reports, and accuracy in reporting credit information.
  • FCRA grants you the right to fix incorrect credit report information promptly.

There are three more minor acts in it: the Credit CARD Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. These Acts deal with the accountability of credit card companies and your rights if someone steals your identity.

Truth in Lending Act (TILA)

  • TILA grants relief from unjust billing practices and false promises by financial institutions.
  • TILA directs lenders to hand out complete loan cost information to their consumers, and it'll help them to compare offers when shopping for loans.
  • As per TILA, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has banned mandatory arbitrations and waivers of consumer rights. It also implements ability-to-pay requirements for mortgage borrowers.
  • TILA grants the right of rescission to the consumers and empowers them to reconsider a loan within 3 days and bow out without losing money.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

  • ECOA bans creditors from discriminating depending on factors like religion, sex, race, color, marital status, national origin, age, or public welfare schemes you enjoy while assessing a consumer's creditworthiness.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) executes ECOA to protect consumers from unfairness when seeking credit.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

  • FDCPA regulates how debt collectors treat their consumers (loan defaulters) to secure payments.
  • Collection agencies must follow the FDCPA that protects debtors from harassment, misleading information, and unjust practices.
  • Debt collectors can contact borrowers for payment between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Debt collectors must identify themselves and explain why they called their borrowers.
  • They can't contact borrowers at work without permission from their employers.
  • Collection agencies will have to stop all forms of communication if borrowers have sent them a letter asking to do so.

Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA)

  • EFTA protects consumers from identity theft and other fraudulent activities related to transactions that immediately withdraw funds from their accounts or when transferring funds electronically. For example, EFTA applies to ATM use, debit card payment at a point-of-sale terminal, or telephonic payments.
  • The Act limits a consumer's liability to a lost or stolen credit/debit card.
  • As per EFTA, companies must reveal information regarding fees and liabilities of the consumers while issuing bank cards.
  • It provides the right to opt for a form of payment other than an electronic fund transfer.

Updated on : July 12, 2022

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