U.S. labor law is regulated by various boards set up by the Department of Labor (DOL) to oversee the implementation and enforcement of the laws. The DOL administers and enforces more than 180 laws that cover around 10 million employers and 125 million employees. Many of these laws and regulations have become staples of American employer and employee relationships, and workplace culture.
Classification as an employee refers to exempt or nonexempt workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. You do not have to pay exempt employees overtime or minimum wage. Employers, however, sometimes misclassify an employee as exempt when he should not be exempt. Exemptions from overtime and minimum wage are available for executive or administrative employees, as well as for professionals, as long as each exempt employee meets the legal requirements. Violations to classifications are handled by the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government body that is charged with keeping workplaces safe for employees. OSHA manages safety regulations in many private-sector companies, as well as in the public sector. It manages regulations often with inspections. Employers must strive to keep their workplaces safe from recognized and serious safety hazards. If you feel that your employer does not take care of its obligations towards safety, you can call OSHA to investigate further.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows any employee of a company of more than 50 workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for sick relatives or in case of the employee's own illness. The law is specific in its implementation, allowing partial leave in certain cases and allowing the employees to be restored to a substantially equal job when the leave is over as long as the employee does not exceed the total allowed time. Violations of the FMLA are handled by the wage and hour division of the DOL.
Federal law prohibits discrimination in employment for many reasons, most notably due to race and religion. Other, lesser-known classes of people cannot be discriminated against, such as workers over 40 years of age, and people with disabilities. Most employers are very well versed on these laws, so violations may not be as common as with other employment laws. If you feel that your employer has violated discrimination laws, you can file a complaint at your nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office.