What are the Different Types of Federal Employment Law?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Images By: Roman Milert, Children's Bureau Centennial, Lmel900
  • Last Modified Date: 01 March 2020
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In the United States, the federal government has a wide range of laws pertaining to potential or existing employee-employer relationships. For example, there are wage laws, which determine how much people should be paid. There also are occupational health laws, which are aimed to protect workers from harm. Federal employment law addresses discrimination to prevent unfair treatment of workers and applicants as well.

People generally work to get paid. The amount that people are paid normally affects their quality of life, which in turn can have a substantial impact on society. Federal employment law, therefore, outlines numerous wage regulations in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These include a mandatory minimum hourly wage for people in certain professions, for people under the age of 20, and for individuals who receive tips. The FLSA also addresses issues concerning overtime wages.

Child labor is a subject taken into account by federal employment law as well. The FLSA outlines the type of jobs that minors may and may not obtain at certain ages. While all jobs are not explicitly included or excluded, there are express terms under which a minor may be employed in certain industries, such as agriculture. The times of day that minors are allowed to work and the total number of hours that they are allowed to work is regulated as well.


The conditions under which many adults work is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Standards are divided into four main occupational groups, which include general industry, construction, maritime, and agriculture. Regulations outlined in these groups cover issues such as required workplace safety materials, communication standards regarding hazardous materials, and penalties for violators.

Discrimination is a major focus of federal employment law. The numerous bodies of legislation that exist addressing this topic can attest to the US government's aim to make the labor force just and equal. The Americans with Disabilities Act, for example, addresses the treatment of handicapped employees and applicants. The Civil Rights Act prohibits employment decisions based on religion, sex, and race. There is also an Age Discrimination in Employment Act designed to protect people over the age of 40.

Another important area of federal employment law deals with the use of immigrant labor. Much of the legislation on this topic can be found in the Immigration and Nationality Act. It requires employers to verify both the identity and eligibility of employment for newly hired individuals. This body of law addresses the circumstances under which foreign individuals can be recruited to work in the US. It also outlines regulations regarding the hiring of immigrants on a permanent or temporary basis.



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