The New Business Owner’s Guide to Employment Law

The New Business Owner’s Guide to Employment Law

Most modern employment laws come from between the years 1935 and 1974. This period of time marked a significant shift in the thoughts and beliefs surrounding employment and employees. Those labor unions that employees began forming in the early 1800s finally got what they were working for.

Employment law covers everything an employer should do, and an employee should get from fundamental human rights laws to more specific principles.

To learn more about employment law and everything that falls under that umbrella, keep reading. We’re going to cover both the employers’ obligations and the employees’ rights.

The Obligations of the Employer

Lawyer business women working with contract papers and wooden gavel on tabel in courtroom.Let’s begin with the employer’s obligations. As you’re reading these guidelines, you may notice that many of these are employee-based. In other words, they’re looking after the interests of your employees.

You must keep in mind that employment law exists to protect employees. However, it also protects you if you follow them strictly.

Age Discrimination

According to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employers cannot discriminate against individuals who are older than the age of 40 years simply because of this fact. If you – in any way, shape, or form – show that you’re discriminating against older individuals, that individual can sue.

Disability Discrimination

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot discriminate based on an individual’s disability. If the individual is qualified for the job, the employer cannot alter their hiring period, compensation, termination, promotions, training, and other job-related events.

Note that addictions and communicable diseases do not count as disabilities.

Family Leave

The Family Medical Leave Act states that an employee has the right to take a maximum of twelve weeks of unpaid by job-protected time off if any of the following instances apply:

  • The birth of a child
  • The adoption of a child
  • The medical care of themselves
  • A sick child
  • A sick spouse
  • An ill parent with a severe condition

Business partners making agreement with hidden money on the table - bribery, corruption and loan conceptsGender-Pay Differences

The Equal Pay Act states that employers cannot pay females less than males. This is as long as the jobs that both employees are doing require the same effort, skill, and responsibility. Having different salaries within the same position is okay, as long as you can prove that the lesser-paid employee has fewer responsibilities and tasks than the higher-paid individual.


According to the Immigration Reform and Control Act, it is illegal to employ undocumented immigrants. You must verify that they’re eligible for a job, which is what I-9 forms are for.

Also, we should note that it is also illegal to discriminate against undocumented immigrants through lower pay or harassment.

Job Discrimination

One of the clauses in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, protects individuals based on religion, race, sex, or national origin. You cannot harass them, pay them differently, or otherwise treat them differently than other individuals.

Just remember to treat everyone the same. You should also be protecting these individuals from potential harassment from their fellow employees.

Military Leave

According to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, employers cannot discriminate against those who volunteer or are called to military service. If the individual returns within less than five years, they must have their previous job or a similar job back.

Minimum Wage/Overtime Pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act details the federal minimum wage, although states may have a different minimum wage. You should follow the minimum wage for your state.

Plus, you should make sure that you’re paying hourly employees overtime for any work they do over 40 hours in a workweek.

Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects pregnant individuals. More specifically, employees cannot rebuff a job position, fire said employee, or force that individual to take leave.

You should treat pregnant employees like everyone else. Just like you’d give lighter jobs to someone with a back injury, you should do so for a pregnant employee.

Safety in the Workplace

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers should provide a safe place to work. Employees should be free from hazards in the workplace.

When there are hazards present, you should do your best to protect your employees.

The Rights of the Employee

We’ve explained some of the rights employees have, but there are a few more that serve as safety nets specifically for the employees. Even if you’re an employer, it’s good to know these if a problem does arise.

Bring Attention to Issues Without Fear of Retribution

hr audit resume applicant paper and interview with using pen and computer laptop for selection human resource to company.First, an employee should be able to file claims or complaints without fear that their employer will retaliate in one of the following ways:

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Decrease in salary
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Job reassignment

Freedom from Harassment and Discrimination

Just as you should work to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace, your employees should remain free of it from other workplace individuals.

Wrongful termination is more common than you may think. Especially with the recent pandemic, there have been continuous job losses. See our guide to COVID terminations.


Privacy in the workplace refers to personal characteristics and family matters. An employee should not have to divulge about their personal life.

However, employers can check on productivity levels every once in a while, install cameras, and monitor the use of phones and other electronics. However, this does not mean that employers can snoop unnecessarily. If you feel that your employer is checking in too much, ask what the review is for.

Contact Employment Law Attorneys

Keeping up with all of the intricacies and rules surrounding employment law isn’t easy. That’s why you need to contact experienced employment, law attorneys.

If you’re an employee who believes that a workplace violated your rights, an employment lawyer can help you navigate the next steps. If you’re an employer who wants to make sure that they’re within the law, an employment lawyer can guide you through essential activities.

From hiring to termination, the right employment lawyer can ensure that both sides are happy and keeping with the law. Contact our team at the Fernald & Zaffos today to get started.

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