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Basic Overview of Laws

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You have indicated that:

  • You want a Basic Overview of Laws
  • The nature of your business or organization is: State or local government
  • Your establishment is located in: Missouri

Based on the information you provided in response to the questions in the Advisor, the following employment laws administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) likely apply to your business or organization. Please note that the Advisor covers only the major employment laws administered by DOL. In addition, the Advisor does not identify laws administered by other Federal agencies that might be applicable to your business or organization.

In addition to posters of general application, certain organizations may be required to display posters that can only be obtained from DOL's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP). More information on these posters is available. Links to Federal employment posters are always available on the Poster Page. Please note that some localities have workplace poster requirements, as do some other Federal agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development which requires certain businesses to post its Equal Housing Opportunity poster.

Note that Governmental retirement and health plans are not subject to Title I of ERISA.  Generally, a governmental plan means a plan established or maintained for its employees by the Government of the United States, by the government of any state or political subdivision thereof, or by any agency or instrumentality of the foregoing. A governmental plan also includes any plan to which the Railroad Retirement Act of 1935 or 1937 applies and which is financed by contributions required under that act. It also includes any plan of an international organization which is exempted from taxation under the International Organizations Immunities Act.

Federal government plans may be subject to similar provisions. For more information see U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  NonFederal governmental plans (e.g., state and local) may be subject to provisions in the Public Health Service Act. For more information see U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Thank you for using the Department of Labor's FirstStep Employment Law Advisor. Please return to the beginning of this Advisor if you want to check the requirements for another establishment.


Title III, Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)

(15 USC §1671 et seq.(PDF); 29 CFR Part 870)

Who is Covered

Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) is administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The CCPA protects employees from discharge by their employers because their wages have been garnished for any one debt, and it limits the amount of an individual's earnings that may be garnished in any one week for certain types of debts. Title III may limit garnishment for any employee or individual who receives earnings for personal services (including wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, and periodic payments from a pension or retirement program).

Basic Provisions/Requirements

Wage garnishment occurs when an employer is required to withhold the earnings of an individual for the payment of a debt in accordance with a court order or other legal or equitable procedure (e.g., a debt owed by the individual to a credit card company). Title III prohibits an employer from discharging an employee because his or her earnings have been subject to garnishment for any one debt, regardless of the number of levies made or proceedings brought to collect it. Title III does not, however, protect an employee from discharge if the employee's earnings have been subject to garnishment for a second or subsequent debt.

Title III also protects individuals by limiting the amount of earnings that may be garnished in any workweek or pay period to the lesser of 25 percent of disposable earnings or the amount by which disposable earnings are greater than 30 times the Federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by Section 6(a) (1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. This limit applies regardless of how many garnishment orders an employer receives. The Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Title III permits a greater amount of an individual's earnings to be garnished to enforce any order for the support of any person (e.g., spousal support or child support). Title III allows up to 50 percent of an individual's disposable earnings to be garnished for support if the individual is supporting a current spouse or child who is not the subject of the support order, and up to 60 percent if the individual is not doing so. An additional five percent may be garnished for support payments over 12 weeks in arrears.

An individual's "disposable earnings" is the amount of earnings left after legally required deductions (e.g., Federal, state and local taxes; the individual's share of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance taxes; and contributions to state employee retirement systems required by law) have been made. Deductions not required by law (e.g., union dues, health and life insurance premiums, and charitable contributions) are not subtracted from earnings when the amount of disposable earnings for garnishment purposes is calculated.

Title III's restrictions on the amount of wages that can be garnished do not apply to certain bankruptcy court orders or debts due for Federal or state taxes. Nor do they affect voluntary wage assignments, i.e., situations where workers voluntarily agree that their employers may turn over a specified amount of their earnings to a creditor or creditors.

Employee Rights

Title III will in most cases give individuals the right to receive at least partial compensation for the personal services that they provide despite garnishment. This law also prohibits an employer from discharging an employee because of the garnishment of wages for any single indebtedness. The Wage and Hour Division accepts complaints of alleged Title III violations.

Notices/Posters

There are no poster, notice, recordkeeping or reporting requirements under Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

Compliance Assistance Available

More detailed information, including copies of explanatory brochures and regulatory and interpretative materials such as the Federal Wage Garnishment Law Fact Sheet(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs30.pdf), may be obtained from the Wage and Hour Division’s Web site(http://www.dol.gov/whd/) or by contacting a local Wage and Hour Division office(http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm).

Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws

If a state wage garnishment law differs from Title III, the employer must observe the law resulting in the smaller garnishment and must observe any law prohibiting the discharge of an employee because his or her earnings have been subject to garnishment for more than one debt.

Penalties/Sanctions

Violations of Title III may result in the reinstatement of a discharged employee, payment of back wages, and restoration of improperly garnished amounts. Where violations cannot be resolved through informal means, the Department of Labor may initiate court action to restrain violators and remedy violations. Employers who willfully violate the law's prohibition against termination may be prosecuted criminally and fined, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

DOL Contacts

Wage and Hour Division(http://www.dol.gov/whd/)
Contact WHD(http://www.dol.gov/whd/contactform.asp)
Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243); TTY: 1-877-889-5627


Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA)

(29 USC §2001 et seq.; 29 CFR Part 801)

Who is Covered

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The EPPA applies to most private employers. The law does not cover Federal, state, and local government agencies.


Basic Provisions/Requirements

The EPPA prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre‑employment screening or during the course of employment. Employers generally may not require or request any employee or job applicant to take a lie detector test, or discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee or job applicant for refusing to take a test or for exercising other rights under the Act.

Employers may not use or inquire about the results of a lie detector test or discharge or discriminate against an employee or job applicant on the basis of the results of a test, or for filing a complaint or for participating in a proceeding under the Act.

Subject to restrictions, the Act permits polygraph (a type of lie detector) tests to be administered to certain job applicants of security service firms (armored car, alarm, and guard) and of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers.

Subject to restrictions, the Act also permits polygraph testing of certain employees of private firms who are reasonably suspected of involvement in a workplace incident (theft, embezzlement, etc.) that resulted in specific economic loss or injury to the employer.

Where polygraph examinations are allowed, they are subject to strict standards for the conduct of the test, including the pretest, testing, and post testing phases. An examiner must be licensed if required by a state in which the test is to be conducted, and must be bonded or have professional liability coverage. The Act strictly limits the disclosure of information obtained during a polygraph test.


Employee Rights

The EPPA provides that employees have a right to employment opportunities without being subjected to lie detector tests, unless a specific exemption applies. Where polygraph examinations are allowed, they are subject to strict standards at the pre-test, testing, and post-testing stages. Specific notices must be given to employees or prospective employees. The Act also provides employees the right to file a lawsuit for violations of the Act. In addition, the Wage and Hour Division accepts complaints of alleged EPPA violations.


Recordkeeping, Reporting, Notices and Posters


Notices and Posters

Poster.  Every employer subject to EPPA shall post and keep posted on its premises a notice explaining the Act. The notice must be posted in a prominent and conspicuous place in every establishment of the employer where it can readily be observed by employees and applicants for employment. There is no size requirement for the poster. 

The EPPA poster is available in English(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/eppa.htm) and Spanish(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/eppaspan.htm). Posting of the EPPA poster in Spanish is optional.

Notices.  There are specific notices that must be given to examinees and examiners in instances where polygraph tests are permitted:

When a polygraph test is administered pursuant to the economic loss or injury exemption, the employer is required to provide the examinee with a statement prior to the test, in a language understood by the examinee, which fully explains the specific incident or activity being investigated and the basis for testing particular employees. The statement must contain, at a minimum, the following information:

  • An identification with particulars of the specific economic loss or injury to the business of the employer
  • A description of the employee’s access to the property that is the subject of the investigation
  • A detailed description of the basis of the employer’s reasonable suspicion that the employee was involved in the incident or activity under investigation
  • The signature of a person (other than the polygraph examiner) authorized to legally bind the employer

Every employer who requests an employee or prospective employee to submit to a polygraph examination pursuant to the ongoing investigation, drug manufacturer, or security services EPPA exemptions must provide:

  • Reasonable written notice of the date, time, and place of the examination and the examinee’s right to consult with legal counsel or an employee representative before each phase of the test
  • Written notice of the nature and characteristics of the polygraph instrument and examination
  • Extensive written notice explaining the examinee's rights, including a list of prohibited questions and topics, the examinee's right to terminate the examination, and the examinee's right to file a complaint with the Department of Labor alleging violations of EPPA

Employers must also provide written notice to the examiner identifying the persons to be examined.


Recordkeeping

In the limited instances where EPPA permits the administration of polygraph tests, recordkeeping requirements apply both to employers and polygraph examiners. Employers and polygraph examiners must retain required records for a minimum of three years from the date the polygraph examination is conducted (or from the date the examination is requested if no examination is conducted). 

Employers investigating an economic loss or injury must maintain a copy of the statement that sets forth the specific incident or activity under investigation and the basis for testing that particular employee and proof of service of that statement to the examinee.

Employers who manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances must maintain records specifically identifying the loss or injury in question and the nature of the employee’s access to the person or property that is the subject of the investigation.

Every employer who requests an employee or prospective employee to submit to a polygraph examination pursuant to the ongoing investigation, drug manufacturer, or security services EPPA exemptions must maintain:

  • A copy of the written statement that sets forth the time and place of the examination and the examinee’s right to consult with counsel
  • A copy of the written notice provided by the employer to the examiner identifying the persons to be examined
  • Copies of all opinions, reports, or other records furnished to the employer by the examiner relating to such examinations

All polygraph examiners must maintain all opinions, reports, charts, written questions, lists, and other records relating to polygraph tests of such persons, as well as records of the number of examinations conducted during each day, and the duration of each test period.

All exempt private sector employers and polygraph examiners retained to administer examinations to persons identified by employers must keep the required records safe and accessible at the place or places of employment or business or at one or more established central recordkeeping offices where employment or examination records are customarily maintained. If the records are maintained at a central recordkeeping office, other than in the place or places of employment or business, such records must be made available within 72 hours following notice from the Secretary of Labor or an authorized representative such as Wage and Hour Division personnel.


Reporting

There are no reporting requirements under EPPA.


Penalties/Sanctions

The Secretary of Labor can bring court action to restrain violators and assess civil money penalties. An employer who violates the law may be liable to the employee or prospective employee for appropriate legal and equitable relief, which may include employment, reinstatement, promotion, and payment of lost wages and benefits.

Any person against whom a civil money penalty is assessed may, within 30 days of the notice of assessment, request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. If dissatisfied with the Administrative Law Judge's decision, such person may request a review of the decision by the Administrative Review Board which the Secretary of Labor has designated to issue final agency decisions.  Final determinations on violations are enforceable through the courts.


Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws

The law generally does not preempt any provision of any state or local law or any collective bargaining agreement that is more restrictive with respect to lie detector tests.


Compliance Assistance Available

More detailed information, including copies of explanatory brochures and regulatory and interpretative materials, may be obtained from a local Wage and Hour office(http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm).

The Department of Labor provides employers, workers, and others with clear and easy-to-access information and assistance on how to comply with the Employee Polygraph Protection Act. Compliance assistance material related to the Act, may be found on the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) Fact Sheet(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs36.pdf).


DOL Contacts

Wage and Hour Division(http://www.dol.gov/whd/)
Contact WHD(http://www.dol.gov/whd/contactform.asp)
Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243); TTY: 1-877-889-5627


Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), as amended

(29 USC §201 et seq.; 29 CFR Parts 510 to 794)

Who is Covered

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or Act) is administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The Act establishes standards for minimum wages, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor. These standards affect more than 135 million workers, both full time and part time, in the private and public sectors.

The Act covers enterprises with employees who engage in interstate commerce, produce goods for interstate commerce, or handle, sell, or work on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for interstate commerce. For most firms, a threshold of $500,000 in annual dollar volume of business applies to be covered (i.e., the Act does not cover enterprises with less than this amount of business).

In addition, the Act covers the following regardless of their dollar volume of business: hospitals; institutions primarily engaged in the care of the sick, aged, mentally ill, or disabled who reside on the premises; schools for children who are mentally or physically disabled or gifted; preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education; and Federal, state, and local government agencies.

Employees of firms that do not meet the $500,000 annual dollar volume threshold may be covered in any workweek when they are individually engaged in interstate commerce, the production of goods for interstate commerce, or an activity that is closely related and directly essential to the production of such goods.

In addition, the Act covers domestic service employees, such as housekeepers, cooks, gardeners, nurses, or home health aides, if they receive at least $1,900 in 2015 from one employer in a calendar year, or if they work a total of more than eight hours a week for one or more employers. (This calendar year wage threshold is set by the Social Security Administration each year.) For additional coverage information, see the Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #14: Coverage Under the FLSA.

The Act exempts some employees from its overtime pay and minimum wage provisions, and it also exempts certain employees from the overtime pay provisions only. Because the exemptions are narrowly defined, employers should check the exact terms and conditions for any applicable exemption by contacting their local Wage and Hour Division office.

The following are examples of employees exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements:

  • Executive, administrative, and professional employees (including teachers and academic administrative personnel in elementary and secondary schools), outside sales employees, and certain skilled computer professionals (as defined in the Department of Labor's regulations)
  • Employees of certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments
  • Employees of certain small newspapers and switchboard operators of small telephone companies
  • Seamen employed on foreign vessels
  • Employees engaged in fishing operations
  • Employees engaged in newspaper delivery
  • Farm workers employed on small farms (i.e., those that used less than 500 "man days" of farm labor in any calendar quarter of the preceding calendar year)
  • Casual babysitters
  • Persons employed solely by the individual receiving services (not an agency, non-profit, or other third party employer) primarily providing fellowship and protection (companionship services) to seniors and/or individuals with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities

The following are examples of employees exempt from the overtime pay requirements only:

  • Certain commissioned employees of retail or service establishments
  • Auto, truck, trailer, farm implement, boat, or aircraft salespersons employed by non manufacturing establishments primarily engaged in selling these items to ultimate purchasers
  • Auto, truck, or farm implement parts clerks and mechanics employed by non-manufacturing establishments primarily engaged in selling these items to ultimate purchasers
  • Railroad and air carrier employees, taxi drivers, certain employees of motor carriers, seamen on American vessels, and local delivery employees paid on approved trip rate plans
  • Announcers, news editors, and chief engineers of certain non metropolitan broadcasting stations
  • Domestic service employees solely employed by the individual, family, or household receiving services (not an agency or other third party employer) who reside in the private home where they provide services
  • Employees of motion picture theaters
  • Farmworkers

Certain employees may be partially exempt from the overtime pay requirements. These include:

  • Employees engaged in certain operations on agricultural commodities and employees of certain bulk petroleum distributors
  • Employees of hospitals and residential care establishments that have agreements with the employees that they will work 14 day periods in lieu of 7 day workweeks (if the employees are paid overtime premium pay as required by the Act for all hours worked over eight in a day or 80 in the 14 day work period, whichever is the greater number of overtime hours)
  • Employees who lack a high school diploma, or who have not completed the eighth grade, who spend part of their workweeks in remedial reading or training in other basic skills that are not job specific. Employers may require such employees to engage in these activities up to 10 hours in a workweek. Employers must pay regular wages for the hours spent in such training but need not pay overtime premium pay for training hours

Basic Provisions/Requirements

The Act requires employers of covered employees who are not otherwise exempt to pay these employees a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour. Youths under 20 years of age may be paid a minimum wage of not less than $4.25 per hour during the first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer. Employers may not displace any employee to hire someone at the youth minimum wage. For additional information regarding the use of the youth minimum wage provisions, see the Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #32: Youth Minimum Wage – FLSA.

Employers may pay employees on a piece rate basis, as long as they receive at least the equivalent of the required minimum hourly wage rate and overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Employers of tipped employees (i.e., those who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips) may consider such tips as part of their wages, but employers must pay a direct wage of at least $2.13 per hour if they claim a tip credit. They must also meet certain other requirements. For a full listing of the requirements an employer must meet to use the tip credit provision, see the Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #15: Tipped Employees Under the FLSA.

The Act also permits the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the statutory minimum wage under certificates issued by the Department of Labor:

  • Student learners (vocational education students);
  • Full time students in retail or service establishments, agriculture, or institutions of higher education; and
  • Individuals whose earning or productive capacities for the work to be performed are impaired by physical or mental disabilities, including those related to age or injury.

The Act does not limit either the number of hours in a day or the number of days in a week that an employer may require an employee to work, as long as the employee is at least 16 years old. Similarly, the Act does not limit the number of hours of overtime that may be scheduled. However, the Act requires employers to pay covered employees not less than one and one half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, unless the employees are otherwise exempt. For additional information regarding overtime pay requirements, see the Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #23: Overtime Pay Requirements of the FLSA.

The Act prohibits performance of certain types of work in an employee's home unless the employer has obtained prior certification from the Department of Labor. Restrictions apply in the manufacture of knitted outerwear, gloves and mittens, buttons and buckles, handkerchiefs, embroideries, and jewelry (where safety and health hazards are not involved). Employers wishing to employ homeworkers in these industries are required to provide written assurances to the Department of Labor that they will comply with the Act's wage and hour requirements, among other things.

The Act generally prohibits manufacture of women's apparel (and jewelry under hazardous conditions) in the home except under special certificates that may be issued when the employee cannot adjust to factory work because of age or disability (physical or mental), or must care for a disabled individual in the home.

Special wage and hour provisions apply to state and local government employment. For more information regarding these special provisions, see the Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #7: State and Local Governments Under the FLSA.

Employee Rights

Employees may find out how to file a complaint by contacting the local Wage and Hour Division office(http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm), or by calling the program's toll-free help line at 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243). In addition, an employee may file a private suit, generally for the previous two years of back pay (three years in the case of a willful violation) and an equal amount as liquidated damages, plus attorney's fees and court costs.

It is a violation of the Act to fire or in any other manner discriminate against an employee for filing a complaint with an employer or the Wage and Hour Division or for participating in a legal proceeding under the Act.

Notices/Posters

Every employer of employees subject to the FLSA’s minimum wage provisions must post, and keep posted, a notice(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm) explaining the Act in a conspicuous place in all of their establishments. Although there is no size requirement for the poster, employees must be able to readily read it. The FLSA poster is also available in Spanish(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsaspan.htm), Chinese(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/minwagecn.pdf), Russian(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/FLSAPosterRuss.pdf), Thai,(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/MinWageThai.pdf) Hmong,(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/MinWageHmong.pdf) Vietnamese(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/minwageViet.pdf), and Korean(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/minwageKorean.pdf).  There is no requirement to post the poster in languages other than English(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm).

Covered employers are required to post the general Fair Labor Standards Act poster. However, certain industries have posters designed specifically for them. Employers of Agricultural Employees (PDF)(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/wh1386Agrcltr.pdf) and State & Local Government Employees (PDF)(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/wh1385State.pdf) can either post the general Fair Labor Standards Act poster(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm) or their specific industry poster. There are also posters for American Samoa (PDF)(http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/americanSamoa/ASminwagePoster.pdf) and Northern Mariana Islands (PDF)(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/cnmi.pdf)

Every employer who employs workers with disabilities under special minimum wage certificates is also required to post the Employee Rights for Workers with Disabilities/Special Minimum Wage Poster(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/disab.htm).

Recordkeeping

Every employer covered by the FLSA must keep certain records for each of its covered employees. Employers must keep records on wages, hours, and other information as set forth in the Department of Labor's regulations. Most of this data is the type that employers generally maintain in ordinary business practice.

There is no required form for the records. However, the records must include accurate information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned. The following is a listing of the basic payroll records that an employer must maintain:

  • Employee's full name, as used for Social Security purposes, and on the same record, the employee's identifying symbol or number if such is used in place of name on any time, work, or payroll records
  • Address, including zip code
  • Birth date, if younger than 19
  • Sex and occupation
  • Time and day of week when employee's workweek begins
  • Total wages paid each pay period
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment

The following is a listing of some additional information that an employer must maintain unless the employee is an executive, administrative, or professional employee (including teachers and academic administrative personnel in elementary and secondary schools) or outside sales employee who is exempt from the Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements:

  • Hours worked each day and total hours worked each workweek
  • Basis on which employee's wages are paid (e.g., "$9 per hour", "$440 a week", "piecework")
  • Regular hourly pay rate
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings
  • Total overtime earnings for the workweek
  • All additions to or deductions from the employee's wages

For a full listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain, see the Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #21: Recordkeeping Requirements Under the FLSA. Employers are required to preserve for at least three years payroll records, collective bargaining agreements, and sales and purchase records. Records on which wage computations are based should be retained for two years. These include time cards and piecework tickets, wage rate tables, work and time schedules, and records of additions to or deductions from wages.

Reporting

The FLSA does not contain any specific reporting requirements; however, the above referenced records must be open for inspection by the Wage and Hour Division's representatives, who may ask the employer to make extensions, computations, or transcriptions. The records may be kept at the place of employment or in a central records office.

Compliance Assistance Available

More detailed information about the FLSA, including copies of explanatory brochures and regulatory and interpretative materials, is available on the Wage and Hour Division's Web site(http://www.dol.gov/whd/), or by contacting a local Wage and Hour Division office(http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm). Another compliance assistance resource, the elaws Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor(/elaws/flsa.htm), helps answers questions about workers and businesses that are subject to the FLSA.

The Department of Labor provides employers, workers, and others with clear and easy-to-access information and assistance on how to comply with the FLSA. Among the many resources available are:

Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws

State laws on wages and hours also apply to employment subject to this Act. When both this Act and a state law apply, the law setting the higher standards must be observed. For example, if a state law requires a minimum wage higher than the minimum wage required by the Act, the employer must pay the higher minimum wage.

Penalties/Sanctions

In addition to the rights and remedies available to persons through private suits for violations of the Act, the Department of Labor uses a variety of remedies to enforce compliance with the Act's requirements. When Wage and Hour Division investigators encounter violations, they recommend changes in employment practices to bring the employer into compliance, and they request the payment of any back wages due to employees.

Willful violators may be prosecuted criminally and fined up to $10,000. A second conviction may result in imprisonment. Employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the minimum wage or overtime pay requirements are subject to civil money penalties for each violation.

For child labor violations, employers are subject to a civil money penalty for each violation. In addition, employers are subject to a civil money penalty for each violation that causes the death or serious injury of any minor employee – such penalty may be doubled when the violations are determined to be willful or repeated.

When the Department of Labor assesses a civil money penalty, the employer has the right to file an exception to the determination within 15 days of receipt of the notice. If an exception is filed, it is referred to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing and determination as to whether the penalty is appropriate. If an exception is not filed, the penalty becomes final.

The Department of Labor may also bring suit for back pay and an equal amount in liquidated damages, and it may obtain injunctions to restrain persons from violating the Act.

The Act also prohibits the shipment of goods in interstate commerce that were produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, or special minimum wage provisions. The Department of Labor may seek to enjoin such shipments.

DOL Contacts

Wage and Hour Division(http://www.dol.gov/whd/)
Contact WHD(http://www.dol.gov/whd/contactform.asp)
Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243); TTY: 1-877-889-5627


Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), as amended

(29 USC §201 et seq.; 29 CFR Parts 570 to 580)

Child Labor (Nonagricultural Work)

Who is Covered

The child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). These provisions are designed to protect the educational opportunities of minors and to prohibit their employment in jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health and well‑being. In nonagricultural work, the child labor provisions apply to enterprises with employees engaging in interstate commerce, producing goods for interstate commerce, or handling, selling, or working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for interstate commerce. For most firms, an annual dollar volume of business test of not less than $500,000 applies.

Employees of firms that do not meet the $500,000 annual dollar volume test may be subject to the FLSA’s child labor provisions in any workweek in which they are individually engaged in interstate commerce, the production of goods for interstate commerce, or an activity that is closely related and directly essential to the production of such goods.

The Act covers the following employers regardless of their dollar volume of business: hospitals; institutions primarily engaged in the care of the sick, aged, mentally ill, or disabled who reside on the premises; schools for children who are mentally or physically disabled, or gifted; preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education; and Federal, state, and local government agencies.

While 16 is the minimum age for most nonfarm work, minors aged 14 and 15 may work outside of school hours in certain occupations under certain conditions. Minors may, at any age: deliver newspapers; perform in radio, television, movies, or theatrical productions; work for their parents in their solely owned nonfarm businesses (except in mining, manufacturing, or in any other occupation declared hazardous by the Secretary); or gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths.

Basic Provisions/Requirements

The child labor provisions of the Act include restrictions on hours of work and occupations for youths under age 16. These provisions also set forth 17 hazardous occupations orders for jobs that the Secretary has declared too dangerous for those under age 18 to perform.

The permissible jobs and hours of work, by age, in nonfarm work are as follows:

  • Minors age 18 or older are not subject to restrictions on jobs or hours
  • Minors age 16 and 17 may perform any job not declared hazardous by the Secretary, and are not subject to restrictions on hours
  • Minors age 14 and 15 may work outside school hours in various nonmanufacturing, non-mining, nonhazardous jobs listed by the Secretary in regulations published at 29 CFR Part 570 under the following conditions: no more than three hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a non-school day, or 40 hours in a non-school week. In addition, they may not begin work before 7 a.m. or work after 7 p.m., except from June 1 through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended until 9 p.m. The permissible work for 14 and 15 year olds is limited to those jobs specifically listed in the Secretary’s regulations. WHD’s regulations provide some exceptions to these limitations on hours worked for 14 and 15 year olds enrolled in an approved Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP) or Work Study Program (WSP).

Detailed information on the occupations determined to be hazardous by the Secretary is available from a local Wage and Hour Division office and in 29 CFR Part 570.

By regulation, employers must keep records of the dates of birth of employees under age 19, their daily starting and quitting times, their daily and weekly hours of work, and their occupations. The FLSA provides that an employer that has on file an officially-issued employment or age certificate showing that the minor is the minimum age required by the FLSA is not liable for violating the child labor provisions if that documentation proves to be incorrect. Age or employment certificates issued under most state laws are generally acceptable for this purpose. See 29 CFR 570.5.

Employee Rights

The FLSA also gives an employee the right to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division and testify or in other ways cooperate with an investigation or legal proceeding without being fired or discriminated against in any other manner.

Notices/Posters

Every employer of employees subject to the FLSA’s minimum wage provisions must post, and keep posted, a notice(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm) explaining the Act in a conspicuous place in all of their establishments. Although there is no size requirement for the poster, employees must be able to readily read it. The FLSA poster is also available in Spanish(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsaspan.htm), Chinese(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/minwagecn.pdf), Russian(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/FLSAPosterRuss.pdf), Thai,(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/MinWageThai.pdf) Hmong,(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/MinWageHmong.pdf) Vietnamese(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/minwageViet.pdf), and Korean(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/minwageKorean.pdf).  There is no requirement to post the poster in languages other than English(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm).

Covered employers are required to post the general Fair Labor Standards Act poster; however, certain industries have posters designed specifically for them.  Employers of Agricultural Employees (PDF)(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/wh1386Agrcltr.pdf) and State & Local Government Employees (PDF)(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/wh1385State.pdf) can either post the general Fair Labor Standards Act poster(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm) or their specific industry poster.  There are also posters for American Samoa (PDF)(http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/americanSamoa/ASminwagePoster.pdf) and Northern Mariana Islands (PDF)(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/cnmi.pdf)

Every employer who employs workers with disabilities under special minimum wage certificates is also required to post the Employee Rights for Workers with Disabilities/Special Minimum Wage Poster(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/disab.htm).

Recordkeeping

Every employer covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must keep certain records for each covered(/elaws/whd/flsa/overtime/glossary.htm?wd=covered), nonexempt(/elaws/whd/flsa/overtime/glossary.htm?wd=non_exempt) worker.

There is no required form for the records. However, the records must include accurate information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned. The following is a listing of the basic payroll records that an employer must maintain:

  • Employee's full name, as used for Social Security purposes, and on the same record, the employee's identifying symbol or number if such is used in place of name on any time, work, or payroll records
  • Address, including zip code
  • Birth date, if younger than 19
  • Sex and occupation
  • Time and day of week when employee's workweek begins
  • Hours worked each day and total hours worked each workweek
  • Basis on which employee's wages are paid (e.g., "$9 per hour", "$440 a week", "piecework")
  • Regular hourly pay rate
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings
  • Total overtime earnings for the workweek
  • All additions to or deductions from the employee's wages
  • Total wages paid each pay period
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment

For a full listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain, see the Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #21: Recordkeeping Requirements under the FLSA(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs21.pdf). Employers are required to preserve for at least three years payroll records, collective bargaining agreements, and sales and purchase records. Records on which wage computations are based should be retained for two years. These include time cards and piecework tickets, wage rate tables, work and time schedules, and records of additions to or deductions from wages.

Reporting

The FLSA does not contain any specific reporting requirements; however, the above referenced records must be open for inspection by the Wage and Hour Division's representatives, who may ask the employer to make extensions, computations, or transcriptions. The records may be kept at the place of employment or in a central records office.

Compliance Assistance Available

The Department of Labor provides employers, workers, and others with clear and easy-to-access information and assistance on how to comply with the FLSA. Among the many resources available are:

Additional compliance assistance, including explanatory brochures, fact sheets, and regulatory and interpretive materials, is available on the Wage and Hour Division Home Page(http://www.dol.gov/whd).

Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws

Many states have child labor laws. Nothing in the FLSA excuses noncompliance with a state law that establishes a higher standard than that provided in the FLSA. See 29 U.S.C. 218(a).

Penalties/Sanctions

The child labor “hot goods” provision of the Act prohibits the shipment or delivery of goods in interstate commerce that were produced in or about an establishment where a child labor violation occurred in the past 30 days. It is also a violation of the Act to fire or in any other manner discriminate against an employee for filing a complaint or for participating in a legal proceeding under the Act.

Employers are subject to a civil money penalty of up to $11,000 per worker for each violation of the child labor provisions. In addition, employers are subject to a civil money penalty of $50,000 for each violation occurring after May 21, 2008 that causes the death or serious injury of any minor employee – such penalty may be doubled, up to $100,000, when the violations are determined to be willful or repeated. When a civil money penalty is assessed, employers have the right to file an exception to the determination within 15 days of receipt of the notice of such penalty. When an exception is filed, it is referred to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing and determination as to whether the penalty is appropriate. Either party may appeal the decision of the Administrative Law Judge to the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board. If an exception is not filed within the 15 days, the penalty becomes final.

The Act also provides for a criminal fine of up to $10,000 upon conviction for a willful violation. For a second conviction for a willful violation, the Act provides for a fine of not more than $10,000 and imprisonment for up to six months, or both. The Secretary may also bring suit to obtain injunctions to restrain persons from violating the Act.

DOL Contacts

Wage and Hour Division(http://www.dol.gov/whd/)
Contact WHD(http://www.dol.gov/whd/contactform.asp)
Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243); TTY: 1-877-889-5627


Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)

(29 USC §2601 et seq.; 29 CFR Part 825)

Who is Covered

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The FMLA provides a means for employees to balance their work and family responsibilities by taking unpaid, job-protected leave for certain reasons. The Act is intended to promote the stability and economic security of families as well as the nation's interest in preserving the integrity of families.

The FMLA applies to any employer in the private sector who engages in commerce, or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, and who has 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

The law also covers all public agencies (state and local governments) and local education agencies (schools, whether public or private). These employers do not need to meet the "50-employee" test. Title II of FMLA covers most Federal employees, who are subject to regulations(http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/HTML/fmlafac2.asp) issued by the Office of Personnel Management.

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Be employed by a covered employer and work at a worksite within 75 miles of which that employer employs at least 50 people;
  • Have worked at least 12 months (which do not have to be consecutive) for the employer; and
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date FMLA leave is to begin. 

An employer need not count employment prior to a break in service of seven years or more unless there was a written agreement between the employer and employee (including a collective bargaining agreement) to rehire the employee, or the break in service was due to fulfillment of military service in the National Guard or Reserves. 

Basic Provisions/Requirements

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons.  Eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Twelve workweeks of leave in any 12-month period for:
     
    • Birth and care of the employee's child, within one year of birth
    • Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, within one year of the placement
    • Care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition
    • For the employee's own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
    • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in the U.S. National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation
       
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the servicemember (Military Caregiver Leave)

If an employee was receiving group health benefits when leave began, an employer must maintain them at the same level and in the same manner during periods of FMLA leave as if the employee had continued to work. An employee may elect (or the employer may require) the substitution of any accrued paid leave (vacation, sick, personal, etc.) for periods of unpaid FMLA leave.  Substitution means the accrued paid leave runs concurrently with the FMLA leave period.  An employee’s ability to substitute accrued paid leave is determined by the terms and conditions of the employer’s normal leave policy.

Employees may take FMLA leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule (that is, in blocks of time less than the full amount of the entitlement) when medically necessary or when the leave is due to a qualifying exigency. Taking intermittent leave for the placement for adoption or foster care of a child is subject to the employer's approval. Intermittent leave taken for the birth of a child is also subject to the employer's approval.  However, employer approval is not required for intermittent or reduced schedule leave that is medically necessary due to pregnancy, a serious health condition, or the serious illness or injury of a covered servicemember. Employer approval also is not required when intermittent or reduced schedule leave is necessary due to a qualifying exigency.

When the need for leave is foreseeable, an employee must give the employer at least 30 days notice, or as much notice as is practicable. When the leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable in the particular circumstances. An employee must comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice and procedural requirements for requesting leave, absent unusual circumstances. In requesting leave an employee need not specifically reference the FMLA but must provide sufficient information for the employer to reasonably determine whether the FMLA may apply to the leave request. By contrast, when the employee seeks leave for a qualifying reason for which the employer has previously provided the employee FMLA-protected leave, the employee must specifically reference the qualifying reason for the leave or the need for FMLA leave.

An employer may require that a serious health condition, or a serious illness or injury of a covered servicemember, be supported by a certification from the employee's health care provider, the employee’s family member’s health care provider, or an authorized health care provider of the covered servicemember. An employer may also require periodic reports of the employee's status and intent to return to work during the leave. Additionally, under certain conditions, an employer may require that an employee who takes FMLA leave for his or her own serious health condition submit a "fitness for duty" certification from the employee’s health care provider that the employee is able to return to work.

An employee who returns from FMLA leave is entitled to be restored to the same or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.  The employee may, but is not entitled to, accrue additional benefits during periods of unpaid FMLA leave.  However, the employer must return him or her to employment with the same benefits at the same levels as existed when leave began.

Employee Rights

The FMLA provides that eligible employees of covered employers have a right to take job-protected leave for qualifying events without interference or restraint from their employers and without being retaliated against for exercising or attempting to exercise their FMLA rights. An eligible employee has the right to have group health insurance maintained during a period of FMLA leave under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave and has the right to be restored to the same or an equivalent position at the end of the FMLA leave.

The FMLA also gives employees the right to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division, file a private lawsuit under the Act (or cause a complaint or lawsuit to be filed), and testify or cooperate in other ways with an investigation or lawsuit without being fired or discriminated against in any other manner

.

Employees and other persons may file complaints with a local Wage and Hour Division office(http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm). The Department of Labor may file suit to ensure compliance and recover damages if a complaint cannot be resolved administratively. Most employees also have private rights of action, without involvement of the Department of Labor, to correct violations and recover damages through the courts.

Failure on the part of employers to follow the FMLA notice requirements, may constitute an interference with, restraint, or denial of the exercise of an employee’s FMLA rights.

Notices/Posters

Poster.  All covered employers are required to display and keep on display a poster explaining the provisions of the FMLA and telling employees how to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of violations of the Act. The poster must be displayed prominently where employees and applicants for employment can see it .The poster and all the text must be large enough to be easily read and contain fully legible text.  Covered employers must display the poster even if no employees are eligible for FMLA leave.  

Where the employer’s workforce is comprised of a significant portion of workers who are not literate in English, the employer is required to provide the notice in a language in which the employees are literate.  To meet the posting requirements, employers may use the prototype poster prepared by the Department or may use another format so long as the information provided includes, at a minimum, all of the information contained in that notice.  Electronic posting is permitted as long as it meets all of the posting requirements.

The Department’s FMLA prototype poster is available in English(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/fmla.htm) and Spanish(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/fmlaspan.htm)

General notice.  If a covered employer has any eligible employees, it must also provide general notice to each employee by including the notice in employee handbooks or other written guidance to employees concerning benefits or leave rights if such written materials exist.  If such written materials do not exist, the employer may accomplish this by distributing a copy of the general notice to each new employee upon hire.  In either case, distribution may be accomplished electronically. 

An employer may duplicate the text of the Poster to meet this general notice requirement, or may use another format so long as the information provided includes, at a minimum, all of the information contained in that notice.  Where an employer’s workforce is comprised of a significant portion of workers who are not literate in English, the employer must provide the general notice in a language in which the employees are literate.

Eligibility notice.  When an employee requests FMLA leave or the employer acquires knowledge that an employee’s leave may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employer must notify the employee of the employee’s eligibility to take FMLA leave within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances. The eligibility notice must state whether the employee is eligible for FMLA leave, and if the employee is not eligible, must state at least one reason why the employee is not eligible.

The Department of Labor makes available a Prototype Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities Notice(http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/wh-381.pdf) (Form WH-381), which employers may adapt as appropriate for their use to meet their eligibility and rights and responsibilities (see below) notice requirements.

Rights and Responsibilities notice. Each time the eligibility notice is provided, the employer is also required to provide a written notice detailing the specific expectations and obligations of the employee and explaining any consequences of a failure to meet these obligations. If leave has already begun, the employer should mail the notice to the employee’s address of record. The employer must translate this notice in any situation where it is obligated to translate the general notice into a language in which employees are literate. The written notice must also include information on:

  • Leave may be designated and counted against the employee’s annual FMLA leave entitlement if it qualifies as FMLA leave
  • The applicable 12-month period for the FMLA entitlement
  • Requirements for the employee to furnish certification of a serious health condition, serious injury or illness, or qualifying exigency arising out of active duty or call to active duty status, and the consequences of failing to do so
  • Employee’s right to substitute paid leave, whether the employer will require the substitution of paid leave, the conditions related to any substitution, and the employee’s entitlement to take unpaid FMLA leave if the employee does not meet the conditions for paid leave
  • Requirement for the employee to make any premium payments to maintain health benefits, the arrangements for making such payments, and the possible consequences of the failure to make such payments on a timely basis
  • Employee’s status as a “key employee” and the potential consequence that restoration may be denied following FMLA leave, explaining the conditions required for such denial
  • Employee’s rights to maintenance of benefits during the FMLA leave and to restoration to the same or an equivalent job upon return from leave
  • Employee’s potential liability for payment of health insurance premiums paid by the employer during the employee’s unpaid FMLA leave if the employee fails to return to work after taking FMLA leave

The specific notice may include other information such as whether the employer will require periodic reports of the employee’s status and intent to return to work, but is not required to do so. The notice of rights and responsibilities may be accompanied by any required certification form.

If the specific information provided by the notice changes, the employer must provide written notice referencing the prior notice and setting forth any of the information that has changed. This notice of changes should be provided within five business days of receipt of the employee's first notice of need for leave subsequent to any change.

The Department makes available a Prototype Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities Notice(http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/WH-381.pdf) (Form WH-381), which employers may adapt as appropriate for their use to meet their eligibility and rights and responsibilities notice requirements.

Designation notice. The employer is responsible in all circumstances for designating leave as FMLA-qualifying and giving notice of the designation to the employee. When the employer has enough information to determine whether the leave is being taken for an FMLA-qualifying reason, such as after receiving a certification, the employer must notify the employee whether the leave is designated and will count as FMLA leave within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances. Only one designation notice for each FMLA-qualifying reason per applicable 12-month leave year is required. The employer must also notify the employee if it determines that the leave is not FMLA-qualifying and will not be designated as FMLA leave.

If the employer is requiring the employee to submit a fitness-for-duty certification to be restored to his or her job, the employer must provide notice of the requirement with the designation notice. If the employer will require that the fitness-for-duty certification address the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the employee’s position, the employer must indicate so in the designation notice and include a list of the essential functions. If the employer handbook or other written documents describing the employer's leave policies clearly provide that a fitness-for-duty certification will be required in specific circumstances, the employer is not required to provide written notice of this requirement, but must provide at least oral notice no later than at the time off the designation notice.

The designation notice must be in writing. The Department of Labor makes available a prototype Designation Notice(http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/WH-382.pdf) (Form WH-382) for employer’s use. If the leave is not designated as FMLA leave because it does not meet the requirements for FMLA protection, the notice that the leave is not designated FMLA may be in the form of a simple written statement. If the information provided by the employer to the employee in the designation notice changes, the employer must provide written notice of the change within five business days of receipt of the employee’s first notice of need for leave subsequent to the change.

Additionally, the employer must notify the employee of the amount of leave counted against his or her FMLA entitlement. If known at the time the leave is designated, the employer must notify the employee of the number of hours, days, or weeks that will be counted against the employee’s FMLA entitlement. If it is not possible to provide the hours, days, or weeks that will be counted against the entitlement (such as in the case of unforeseeable, intermittent leave), then the employer must provide notice of the amount of leave counted against the FMLA leave entitlement at the request of the employee, but no more often than once in a 30-day period and only if leave was taken in that period. Notice of the amount of leave taken may be oral, but if oral, must be confirmed in writing, generally by no later than the following payday; such written notice may be in any form, including a pay stub notation.

Recordkeeping

Employers are required to make, keep, and preserve records pertaining to their obligations under FMLA in accordance with the recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FMLA does not require that employers keep their records in any particular order or form, or revise their computerized payroll or personnel records systems to comply.

Employers must keep the records for no less than three years and make them available for inspection, copying, and transcription by Department of Labor representatives upon request. Records kept in computer form must be made available for transcription and copying.

Covered employers who have eligible employees must maintain records that must disclose the following:

  • Basic payroll and identifying information (including name, address, and occupation)
  • Rate or basis of pay
  • Terms of compensation
  • Daily and weekly hours worked per pay period
  • Additions to or deductions from wages
  • Total compensation paid

In addition, covered employers who have eligible employees must also maintain records detailing:

  • Dates of FMLA leave taken by FMLA eligible employees. Leave must be designated in records as FMLA leave, and may not include leave required under state law or an employer plan which is not also covered by FMLA.
  • Hours of FMLA leave taken by FMLA eligible employees, if leave is taken in increments of less than one full day
  • Copies of employee notices of leave furnished to the employer
  • Copies of all written notices given to employees as required under FMLA
  • Documents describing employee benefits or employer paid and unpaid leave policies and practices
  • Premium payments of employee benefits
  • Records of disputes between the employer and the employee regarding FMLA

Records and documents relating to medical certifications, re-certifications or medical histories of employees or employees’ family members, created for purposes of FMLA, are required to be maintained as confidential medical records in separate files/records from the usual personnel files. If the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies, then these records must comply with the ADA confidentiality requirements. Supervisors and managers may be informed regarding necessary restrictions on the work or duties of an employee and necessary accommodations. First aid and safety personnel may be informed, where appropriate, if the employee’s physical or medical condition might require emergency treatment. Government officials investigating compliance must be provided access to relevant information.

Reporting

There are no reporting requirements under FMLA.

Compliance Assistance Available

More detailed information, including copies of explanatory brochures, may be obtained by contacting the local Wage and Hour Division office(http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm). Compliance assistance information is also available from the Wage and Hour Division's Web site(http://www.wagehour.dol.gov). For additional assistance, contact the Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).

The Department of Labor provides employers, workers, and others with clear and easy-to-access information and assistance on how to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act. Among the many resources available are:

Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws

A number of states have family leave statutes. Nothing in the FMLA supersedes a provision of state law that is more beneficial to the employee, and employers must comply with the more beneficial provision. Under some circumstances, an employee with a disability may have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Penalties/Sanctions

Covered employers are required to post a notice for employees outlining the basic provisions of the FMLA and are subject to a civil money penalty if they willfully fail to post such a notice.

DOL Contacts

Wage and Hour Division(http://www.dol.gov/whd/)
Contact WHD(http://www.dol.gov/whd/contactform.asp)
Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243); TTY: 1-877-889-5627


Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

(38 USC §§4301 through 4334)

Who is Covered

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is administered by the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). USERRA applies to persons who perform duty, voluntarily or involuntarily, in the "uniformed services," which include the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Public Health Service commissioned corps, as well as the reserve components of each of these services. Federal training or service in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard also gives rise to rights under USERRA. In addition, under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act of 2002, certain disaster response work (and authorized training for such work) is considered "service in the uniformed services."

Uniformed service includes active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty training (such as drills), initial active duty training, and funeral honors duty performed by National Guard and reserve members, as well as the period for which a person is absent from a position of employment for the purpose of an examination to determine fitness to perform any such duty.

USERRA covers nearly all employees, including part-time and probationary employees. USERRA applies to virtually all U.S. employers, regardless of size.

Basic Provisions/Requirements

USERRA prohibits employment discrimination against a person on the basis of past military service, current military obligations, or intent to serve. An employer must not deny initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment to a person on the basis of a past, present, or future service obligation. In addition, an employer must not retaliate against a person because of an action taken to enforce or exercise any USERRA right or for assisting in an USERRA investigation.

The pre-service employer must reemploy servicemembers returning from a period of service in the uniformed services if those servicemembers meet five criteria:

  • The person must have been absent from a civilian job on account of service in the uniformed services;
  • The person must have given advance notice to the employer that he or she was leaving the job for service in the uniformed services, unless such notice was precluded by military necessity or otherwise impossible or unreasonable;
  • The cumulative period of military service with that employer must not have exceeded five years;
  • The person must not have been released from service under dishonorable or other punitive conditions; and
  • The person must have reported back to the civilian job in a timely manner or have submitted a timely application for reemployment, unless timely reporting back or application was impossible or unreasonable.

USERRA establishes a five-year cumulative total of military service with a single employer, with certain exceptions allowed for situations such as call-ups during emergencies, reserve drills, and annually scheduled active duty for training. USERRA also allows an employee to complete an initial period of active duty that exceeds five years.

Employers are required to provide to persons entitled to the rights and benefits under USERRA a notice of the rights, benefits, and obligations of such persons and such employers under USERRA.

Employee Rights

USERRA provides that returning servicemembers are to be reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, (the "escalator" principle), with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts (such as training or retraining) be made to enable returning servicemembers to qualify for reemployment. If the servicemember cannot qualify for the "escalator" position, he or she must be reemployed, if qualified, in any other position that is the nearest approximation to the escalator position and then to the pre-service position. USERRA also provides that while an individual is performing military service, he or she is deemed to be on a furlough or leave of absence and is entitled to the non-seniority rights and benefits accorded other similarly-situated individuals on non-military leaves of absence. The time limits for returning to work are as follows:

  • Less than 31 days service: By the beginning of the first regularly scheduled work period after the end of the calendar day of duty, plus time required to return home safely and an eight hour rest period. If this is impossible or unreasonable, then as soon as possible.
  • 31 to 180 days: The employee must apply for reemployment no later than 14 days after completion of military service. If this is impossible or unreasonable through no fault of the employee, then as soon as possible.
  • 181 days or more: The employee must apply for reemployment no later than 90 days after completion of military service.
  • Service-connected injury or illness: Reporting or application deadlines are extended for up to two years for persons who are hospitalized or convalescing.

Health and pension plan coverage for servicemembers is also addressed by USERRA. Individuals performing military duty of more than 30 days may elect to continue employer sponsored health care for up to 24 months; however, they may be required to pay up to 102 percent of the full premium. For military service of less than 31 days, health care coverage is provided as if the servicemember had remained employed. USERRA pension protections apply to defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans as well as plans provided under Federal or state laws governing pension benefits for government employees. For purposes of pension plan participation, vesting, and accrual of benefits, USERRA treats military service as continuous service with the employer.

Notices/Posters

Employers are required to provide to persons covered by USERRA a notice of the rights, benefits, and obligations of the employees and employers under USERRA.  To do this, employers may post the notice entitled “Your Rights Under USERRA” where employer notices are customarily placed, mail it, or by distributing it via electronic mail. There is no size requirement for the poster version of the notice.

Recordkeeping

There are no required records under USERRA.

Reporting

There are no required reports under USERRA.

Compliance Assistance Available

Compliance assistance information is available on the VETS Web site(http://www.dol.gov/vets/). Specific compliance assistance materials available include: the Department of Labor USERRA regulations (20 CFR Part 1002)(http://www.dol.gov/vets/regs/fedreg/final/2005023961.htm), which implement the law for non-Federal employers; a fact sheet (http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/userra_fs.htm) about USERRA; and the notice/poster(http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/poster.htm) to employees of their rights, benefits, and obligations under USERRA. Copies of VETS publications, or answers to questions about USERRA, may also be obtained from a local VETS office(http://www.dol.gov/vets/aboutvets/nationaloffice.htm).

Another compliance assistance resource, the elaws Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Advisor(/elaws/userra.htm), helps veterans understand employee eligibility and job entitlements, employer obligations, benefits, and remedies under the Act.

The Department of Labor provides employers, workers, and others with clear and easy-to-access information and assistance on how to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Among the many resources are Frequently Asked Questions for Reservists being Called to Active Duty(http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_911_2.html), explanatory brochures, fact sheets, and regulatory and interpretive materials are available.

Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws

USERRA does not preempt state laws providing greater or additional rights or benefits, but it does preempt state laws providing lesser rights or benefits or imposing additional eligibility criteria.

Penalties/Sanctions

A court may order an employer to compensate a prevailing claimant for lost wages or benefits. USERRA allows for liquidated damages for "willful" violations.

DOL Contacts

Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS)(http://www.dol.gov/vets/)
E-mail: contact-vets@dol.gov
Tel: 1-866-4USADOL (1-866-487-2365) or 1-202-693-4770; TTY: 1-877-889-5627


Whistleblower Protection Provisions

Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSH Act), 29 USC § 660(c)

Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), 49 USC § 31105

Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), 15 USC § 2651

International Safe Container Act (ISCA), 46 USC § 80507

Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (ERA), 42 USC § 5851

Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 USC § 7622

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), 42 USC § 300j-9(i)

Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), 33 USC § 1367

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), 15 USC § 2622

Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA), 42 USC § 6971

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 USC § 9610

Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act (AIR21), 49 USC § 42121

Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOA), 18 USC § 1514A

Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA), 49 USC § 60129

National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA)

Federal Rail Safety Act

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administers the employee protection (or "whistleblower") provisions of sixteen statutes.

Who is Covered

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administers the employee “whistleblower” protection provisions of twenty-two statutes.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), employees may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for exercising any right afforded by the OSH act, such as complaining to the employer union, OSHA, or any other government agency about workplace safety or health hazards; or for participating in OSHA inspection conferences, hearings, or other OSHA-related activities.

Under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), employees and certain independent contractors in the trucking industry may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting certain commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety, health, or security concerns; for refusing to drive under dangerous circumstances or in violation of CMV safety, health, or security rules; for accurately reporting their hours on duty; for cooperating with safety or security investigations conducted by certain Federal agencies; or for furnishing information to a government agency relating to any accident or incident resulting in injury or death or damage to property in connection with CMV transportation.

Under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), employees may file complaints with OSHA if they believe they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting alleged violations of environmental laws relating to asbestos in elementary and secondary school systems.

Under the International Safe Container Act (ISCA), employees may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting allegations of an unsafe cargo container.

Under the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA), certain employees in the nuclear power and nuclear medicine industries may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting alleged violations of nuclear safety laws or regulations.

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), employees may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting alleged violations of certain environmental laws or regulations.

Under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), employees of air carriers and their contractors and subcontractors may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting alleged violations of Federal aviation safety laws or regulations.

Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), as amended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, employees of certain publicly traded companies, companies with certain reporting requirements with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and their contractors, subcontractors, and agents may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting alleged violations of the Federal mail, wire, bank, or securities fraud statutes, any rule or regulation of the SEC, or any other provision of Federal law relating to fraud against shareholders.

Under the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA), employees of owners or operators of pipeline facilities and their contractors and subcontractors may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting alleged violations of Federal law regarding pipeline safety or for refusing to violate such provisions.

Under the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA), employees of railroad carriers and their contractors and subcontractors may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting an alleged violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to railroad safety or security, or gross fraud, waste, or abuse of Federal grants or other public funds intended to be used for railroad safety or security; reporting hazardous safety or security conditions; refusing to violate or assist in the violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to railroad safety or security; refusing to work when confronted by a hazardous safety or security condition related to the performance of the employee’s duties (under imminent danger circumstances); or for requesting prompt medical or first aid treatment for employment-related injuries.

Under the National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA), employees of public transportation agencies and their contractors and subcontractors may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting an alleged violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to public transportation safety or security, or fraud, waste, or abuse of Federal grants or other public funds intended to be used for public transportation safety or security; reporting hazardous safety or security conditions; refusing to violate or assist in the violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to public transportation safety or security; or refusing to work when confronted by a hazardous safety or security condition related to the performance of the employee’s duties (under imminent danger circumstances).

Under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), employees of motor vehicle manufacturers, part suppliers, and dealerships may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for providing information to the employer or the U.S. Department of Transportation about motor vehicle defects, noncompliance, or violations of the notification or reporting requirements enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), or for engaging in related protected activities as set forth in the provision.

Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), employees of manufacturers, private labelers, distributors, and retailers may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting alleged violations of any law or regulation within the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to the employer, the Federal government, or a state attorney general; or for refusing to perform assigned tasks that the employee reasonably believes would violate CPSC requirements.

Under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), employees of food manufacturers, distributors, packers, and transporters may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting a violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or a regulation promulgated under the Act. Employees are also protected from retaliation for refusing to participate in a practice that violates the Act.

Under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), employees performing tasks related to consumer financial products or services may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting reasonably perceived violations of any provision of title X of the Dodd-Frank Act or any other provision of law that is subject to the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, or any rule, order, standard, or prohibition prescribed by the Bureau.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employees may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting violations of any provision of title I of the ACA, including but not limited to discrimination based on an individual’s receipt of health insurance subsidies, the denial of coverage based on a preexisting condition, or an insurer’s failure to rebate a portion of an excess premium.

Under the Seaman’s Protection Act (SPA), as amended by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, seamen may file complaints with OSHA if they believe that they have experienced discrimination or retaliation for reporting to the Coast Guard or another federal agency a violation of a maritime safety law or regulation. Among other things, the Act also protects seamen from retaliation for refusing to work when they reasonably believe an assigned task would result in serious injury or impairment of health to themselves, other seamen, or the public.

Other Department of Labor agencies, such as the Wage and Hour Division, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, enforce the anti-retaliation provisions of numerous other statutes and Executive Orders. Information concerning many of these additional anti-retaliation protections is available in other sections of the Guide.

Basic Provisions/Requirements

Generally, the employee protection provisions listed above prohibit covered employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against any employee because the employee engaged in certain activities protected by law.

The protected activities typically include:

  • Initiating a proceeding under, or for the enforcement of, any of these statutes, or causing such a proceeding to be initiated;
  • Testifying in any such proceeding;
  • Assisting or participating in any such proceeding or in any other action to carry out the purposes of these statutes; or
  • Complaining about a violation.

Many of the statutes specifically protect an employee's internal complaints to his or her employer, and it is the Department of Labor's position, as set forth in regulations, that employees who express safety or quality assurance concerns internally to their employers are protected under all of the whistleblower statutes administered by OSHA.

Employee Rights

Any employee who believes that he or she has been discriminated or retaliated against in violation of any of the statutes listed above may file a complaint with OSHA. Complaints must be filed within 30 days after the occurrence of the alleged violation under the OSH Act, CAA, CERCLA, SWDA, FWPCA, SDWA, and TSCA; within 60 days under ISCA; within 90 days under AIR21 and AHERA; and within 180 days under ACA, FSMA, SPA, MAP-21, SOX, STAA, ERA, PSIA, FRSA, NTSSA, CFPA and CPSIA.

If the Secretary of Labor has not issued a final decision within 180 days of the filing of a SOX complaint, one year of the filing of an ERA complaint, or 210 days of a ACA, SPA, FSMA, MAP-21, STAA, FRSA, NTSSA, CFPA or CPSIA complaint, and there is no showing that there has been delay due to the bad faith of the employee, the employee may bring an action at law or equity in district court under those statutes.

Notices/Posters

There are no recordkeeping, reporting, poster, or other notice requirements for employers under the Whistleblower Protection provisions administered and enforced by OSHA.

Compliance Assistance Available

The Department of Labor provides employers, workers, and others with clear and easy-to-access information and assistance on how to comply with the Whistleblower Protection provisions, including OSHA’s Whistleblower Program Web site.

Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws

The Supreme Court has held that the employee protection provisions of the ERA do not preempt existing state statutes and common law claims. The other statutes listed above should be consulted separately to determine whether or not their employee protection provisions are supplementary to protection provided by state laws.

Penalties/Sanctions

Upon receipt of a timely complaint, OSHA notifies the employer and, if conciliation fails, conducts an investigation. Where OSHA finds that complaints filed under the OSH Act, AHERA, and ISCA have merit, they are referred to the Solicitor's Office for legal action. Complaints under these three statutes found not to have merit will be dismissed. Where OSHA finds a violation after investigating complaints under the other statutes listed above, it will issue a determination letter requiring the employer to pay back wages, reinstate the employee, reimburse the employee for attorney and expert witness fees, and take other steps to provide necessary relief. Complaints found not to have merit will be dismissed.

Parties who object to OSHA's determinations under the other statutes listed above (except for the OSH Act, AHERA, and ISCA) may request a hearing before the Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ)(http://www.oalj.dol.gov). Administrative Law Judges' decisions are reviewed by the Department of Labor's Administrative Review Board(http://www.dol.gov/arb), which the Secretary of Labor has designated to issue final agency decisions.

Under STAA, if OSHA finds in favor of the employee, litigation ordinarily is conducted by the Solicitor's Office, but sometimes by the private party. Under the other statutes, litigation generally is conducted by the private parties themselves. Employers and employees may seek judicial review of an adverse Administrative Review Board decision.

Under the AIR21, SOX, PSIA, FRSA, NTSSA, CPSIA, ACA, CFPA, FSMA, and MAP-21, employees who file complaints frivolously or in bad faith may be liable for attorney's fees up to $1,000.

DOL Contacts

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (http://www.osha.gov)
Contact OSHA(http://www.osha.gov/html/Feed_Back.html)
Tel.: 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742); TTY: 1-877-889-5627