How Does Employment Law Impact Business?

For employers in all industries and sectors, few things are more important to learn than the impact employment law has on their businesses.

What are an employee’s rights? What are an employer’s obligations? Employment law has shaped the very nature of American business, dictating who can work, how much they can work, and what they should be paid for that work.

Below, I’ll provide a general overview of the two most fundamental branches of employment law: anti-discrimination laws and hour and wage laws. However, due to the extreme variance between individual state laws, I will be focusing solely on how these branches operate at the federal level.

For more information on state employment laws, or to explore the information below in greater depth, I recommend employers and employees alike visit the websites of the pertinent government organizations.

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Devised with the purpose of guaranteeing equal opportunity for all people and to curb prejudicial abuses of power, anti-discrimination laws often have to change as society evolves. Today, LGBTQ-related employment discrimination cases are common, with some arguing that present anti-discrimination measures are insufficient in protecting LGBTQ individuals.

Anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 – makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, skin color, national origin, or sex.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act – makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 – makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability, and requires employers reasonably accommodate any known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 – makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information or family medical history
Wage and Hour Laws

Wage and hour laws exist to protect employees from exploitation and abuse by employers and to ensure that employees are adequately compensated for their labor. While some states defer to the federal government, others have passed their own additional hour and wage laws. The majority of the current federal hour and wage laws exist as part of the Fair Labor Standards act.

Fair Labor Standards laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor include:

  • Minimum wage – establishes a minimum hourly pay rate which employers are required to meet regardless of an employee’s qualifications
  • Tipped wages – establishes a separate, lower minimum hourly pay rate for employees in positions where they regularly received $30 or more per month from tips
  • Hours worked – a term used to differentiate between periods of time when an employee is entitled to wages for their presence (on the clock) and periods of time when an employee isn’t (off the clock)
  • Overtime – requires employers to pay employees their full hourly wage plus an additional half-wage for every hour they work over the maximum limit of 40 hours per workweek