Federal Employment Law Snapshots
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AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990 (ADA) --
What does it do: Title I requires that employers (which includes
religious entities) with 15 or more employees provide qualified
individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from
the full range of employment-related opportunities available to
others. It prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotion,
training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment.
Monitored - Enforced by: Complaints must be filed with the U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within
180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charge
is filed with the designated State or local fair employment practice
agency. After a "right-to-sue" letter is received from the EEOC
the individual can file a lawsuit in Federal court.
Year enacted/amended: 1990
AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT ACT (ADEA) --
What does it do: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(ADEA) prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the
basis of age, unless age is a bona fide occupational qualification,
or the practice is based on reasonable factors other than age. It
covers employers with 20 or more employees, labor unions with
25 or more members, local and state governments, and employment
agencies. ADEA says you can't, among other things, refuse to
hire an applicant because he or she is over 40, or force an employee
to retire because of age.
Monitored - Enforced by: The Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) shall have the power to make investigations
and require the keeping of records necessary or appropriate for
the administration of this chapter in accordance with the powers
and procedures provided.
Year enacted/amended: 1967/1978
CONSOLIDATED OMNIBUS BUDGET
RECONCILIATION ACT (COBRA) --
What does it do? The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation
Act (COBRA) was designed to permit individuals who would
otherwise lose their health insurance coverage to continue coverage
through their employer or former employer at group rates if they are
willing to pay the full premium themselves. The law requires employers
to offer the opportunity to purchase continued group health coverage
to four overlapping but distinct groups:
o Employees and their families who lose coverage because of the
employee's termination or reduction in hours.
o Divorcees, widows, and their children who lose coverage as a
result of divorce or the death of an employed spouse.
o Dependent children who lose coverage because they exceed the
plan's age limit for eligibility.
o Spouses and dependent children who lose group coverage because
the covered employee became entitled to Medicare.
COBRA also provides continuation coverage for retired employees
and their spouses and children who lose coverage because the
employer is involved in bankruptcy proceedings.
Monitored - Enforced by: Departments of Labor and Treasury.
The Internal Revenue Service (apart of the Department of Treasury)
is responsible for publishing regulations on COBRA provisions
relating to eligibility and premiums. The Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shall have the power to make
investigations and require the keeping of records necessary or
appropriate for the administration of this chapter in accordance
with the powers and procedures provided.
Year enacted/amended: 1986
DRIVER'S PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT (DPPA) --
What does the law do? A State department of motor vehicles,
and any officer, employee, or contractor, thereof, shall not
knowingly disclose or otherwise make available to any person
or entity any personal information about any individual obtained
by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record.
Monitored - Enforced by: The U.S. Attorney General, State
departments of motor vehicles, and any individual whose personal
information has knowingly or unknowingly been released/used
without permissible use.
Year enacted/amended: 1994/1997
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC) --
The EEOC was established by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964 and began operating on July 2, 1965. With its headquarters
in Washington, D.C., and through the operations of 50 field offices
nationwide, the EEOC coordinates all federal equal employment
opportunity regulations, practices, and policies. The Commission
interprets employment discrimination laws, monitors the federal
sector employment discrimination program, provides funding and
support to state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies
(FEPAs), and sponsors outreach and technical assistance programs.
Monitored - Enforced by: The EEOC enforces the following federal
statutes: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended,
prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of (ADEA) of 1967, as amended, prohibiting
employment discrimination against individuals 40 years of age and
older; the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 prohibiting discrimination
on the basis of gender in compensation for substantially similar work
under similar conditions. Title I and Title V of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, prohibiting employment discrimination
on the basis of disability in the private sector and state and local
government; Section 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,
as amended, prohibiting employment discrimination against federal
employees with disabilities; and The Civil Rights Act of 1991
providing monetary damages in cases of intentional discrimination
and clarifying provisions regarding disparate impact actions.
Year enacted/amended: 1964
EMPLOYEE POLYGRAPH PROTECTION ACT (EPPA) --
What does the law do? Businesses cannot request, suggest or require
any job applicant to take a pre-employment polygraph examination.
Additionally, businesses can request a current employee to take a
polygraph examination or suggest to an employee that a polygraph
examination be taken, only when specific conditions have been
satisfied. However, the employer cannot require current employees
to take the examination, and if an employee refuses a request or
suggestion, the employer cannot discipline or discharge the employee
based on the refusal to submit to the examination.
Monitored - Enforced by: The Secretary of Labor has the
Year enacted/amended: 1988
EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY ACT (ERISA) --
What does the law do? The purpose of ERISA is to protect the
interests of participants and their beneficiaries in employee
benefit plans. The law requires that sponsors of private employee
benefit plans provide participants and beneficiaries with adequate
information regarding their plans. Additionally, those individuals
that manage the plans (and other fiduciaries) must meet certain
standards of conduct, derived from the common law of trusts and
made applicable (with certain modifications) to all fiduciaries. The
ERISA also contains detailed provisions for reporting to the
government and disclosure to participants.
Monitored - Enforced by: The administration of ERISA is divided
among the Labor Department, the Internal Revenue Service of the
Department of Treasury, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty
Corporation (PBGC). Title 1 contains rules for reporting and
disclosure, vesting, participation, funding, fiduciary conduct, and
civil enforcement, and is administered by the Department of
Labor. The ERISA Title II, which amended the Internal Revenue
Code to parallel many of the Title I rules, is administered by the
IRS. Title III is concerned with jurisdictional matters and with
coordination of enforcement and regulatory activities by the
Department of Labor and the IRS. Title IV covers the insurance
of defined benefit pension plans and is administered by the PBGC.
Year enacted/amended: 1974/1986
FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT (FCRA) --
What does the law do? The purpose of the FCRA is to require
Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA) to adopt reasonable
procedures for meeting the needs of commerce for consumer
credit, personnel, employment, insurance, and other information
in a manner which is fair and equitable to the consumer, with
regard to the confidentiality, accuracy, relevancy, and proper
utilization of such information in accordance with the requirements
of this title. Note that the amended law does not apply just to
credit reports as is commonly thought. Also note that CRAs
are not just credit bureaus. Any organization that issues a report
on a consumer is a CRA.
Monitored - Enforced by: Compliance with the requirements
imposed under this title shall be enforced under the Federal
Trade Commission Act by the Federal Trade Commission with
respect to consumer reporting agencies and all other persons
subject under the title, except to the extent that enforcement
of the requirements imposed under this title is specifically
committed to some other government agency.
Year enacted/amended: 1970/1999
FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT (FLSA) --
What does the law do? The FLSA provided for minimum
standards for both wages and overtime entitlement, and
lists the administrative procedures by which covered
worktime must be compensated. Also included in the
FLSA are provisions for child labor and equal pay.
Monitored - Enforced by: The Wage and Hour Division in
the Employment Standards Administration of the Department
of Labor administers the FLSA for private employers, state
and local governments, the Library of Congress, the United
States Postal Service, the Postal Rate Commission, and the
Tennessee Valley Authority. The U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission administers the equal pay provisions
of the FLSA. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management
administers the FLSA provisions with respect to any person
employed by a Federal agency.
Year enacted/amended: 1938/2000
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA) --
What does the law do? The FMLA provides certain employees
with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year,
and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the
leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking
leave. The act applies to all: public agencies, including state,
local and federal employers, local education agencies (schools)
private-sector employers who employed 50 or more employees
in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar
year and who are engaged in commerce or in any industry or
activity affecting commerce - including joint employers and
successors of covered employers.
Monitored - Enforced by: U.S. Department of Labor,
Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division.
Year enacted/amended: 1993/1995
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
ADMINISTRATION (OSHA) --
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 established the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the
U.S. Department of Labor. The primary purpose of the OSHA
Act is to provide, so far as possible, every working person in the
nation safe and healthful working conditions. Some of the major
responsibilities under the OSHA are as follows:
Employers are responsible for providing their employees
a workplace free from recognized hazards that may cause
death or serious harm;
Employers must comply with standards, record keeping,
and reporting requirements, and
Each employee is responsible for his or her own
personal safety by complying with the OSHA Act.
In fiscal year 2001, OSHA has a staff of 2,370 including 1,170
inspectors and a budget of $426 million. Sharing the responsibility
for oversight of workplace safety and health are 26 states that
run their own OSHA programs with 2,948 employees and
Monitored - Enforced by: The Department of Labor is responsible
for the enforcement of the Act. This is accomplished through its
inspectors and its own internal review procedures. If, however,
a decision of the Administration is disputed the case is then
forwarded to the Occupational Safety and Health Review
Commission. The Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial
agency established by the Act and is charged with ruling on cases
forwarded to it by the DOL. The Commission is more of a court
system than a simple tribunal, for within the Commission there
are two levels of adjudication. All cases that require a hearing
are assigned to an administrative law judge, who decides the
case. Ordinarily the hearing is held in the community where the
alleged violation occurred or as close as possible. At the hearing
the Secretary of Labor will generally have the burden of proving
the case. After the hearing the judge will issue a decision, based
on the findings of fact and conclusions of law. A substantial
number of the decisions of the judges become final orders of the
Commission. However, each decision is subject to discretionary
review by the three members of the Commission upon the
direction of any one of the three, if done within 30 days of the
filing of the decision. When that occurs, the Commission issues
its own decision. Once a case is decided, any person adversely
affected or aggrieved may obtain a review of the decision in the
United States Courts of Appeals.
Year enacted/amended: 1970
REHABILITATION ACT (RA) --
What does the law do? The Rehabilitation Act was the first
"rights" legislation to prohibit discrimination against people with
disabilities. However, this law applies to programs conducted by
Federal agencies, those receiving federal funds, such as colleges
participating in federal student loan programs, Federal
employment, and employment practices of businesses with
federal contracts. The standards for determining employment
discrimination under this act are the same as those used in
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Monitored - Enforced by: The enforcement and compliance of
the act are shared with several Federal departments or agencies
such as: the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
in the U.S. Department of Labor; the Disability Rights Section,
Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; and the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Year enacted/amended: 1973/1998
UNIFORMED SERVICES EMPLOYMENT AND
REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS ACT (USERRA) --
What does the law do? The USERRA prohibits discrimination
against persons because of their service in the Armed Forces
Reserve, the National Guard, or other uniformed services.
USERRA prohibits an Employer from denying any benefit of
employment on the basis of an individual's membership,
application for membership, performance of service, application
for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services.
The act also protects the rights of veterans, reservists, National
Guard members, and certain other members of the uniformed
services to reclaim their civilian employment after being absent
due to military service or training.
Monitored - Enforced by: The U.S. Office of Special Counsel
is authorized by the USERRA to investigate alleged violations
of the act by Federal executive agencies, and to prosecute
meritorious claims before the Merit Systems Protection Board
(MSPB) on behalf of the aggrieved person. All other claims
of alleged violations must be filed with the Department of
Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS).
Year enacted/amended: 1994