Compared to some countries in Europe, the United States of America has a relatively weak legal framework governing how people are employed. The somewhat loose federal oversight of employment law has its origins in the socially Darwinist attitudes held by powerful politicians and businesspeople during the industrial revolution. Despite this, the US federal government has introduced several acts designed to protect both workers and employers. Below is a really quick guide to some of the most important acts that dictate American employment laws. 

Americans With Disabilities Act 

The Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA, is a federal law enacted in 1990 that forbids discrimination against people with disabilities in every area of public life, including employment, education, transportation, and public accommodations. The ADA defines a disability as the following: a physical or mental impairment that can substantially limit one or more major life activities.

The ADA was passed after decades of advocacy by disability rights groups, who faced discrimination and exclusion from many aspects of daily life. The law provides protections for individuals with disabilities, ensuring that they have equal opportunities and access to the same resources as their non-disabled peers.

Due to the ADA, employers must make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, such as providing assistive technology or modifying physical spaces to ensure accessibility. The ADA has been instrumental in improving the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities, promoting inclusion and accessibility in all areas of public life.

Equal Pay Act 

The Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1963 and prohibits employers from paying employees of different sexes different wages for performing substantially similar work. The law requires employers to provide equal pay for equal work, regardless of an employee’s sex.

The EPA has had a significant impact on US employment law, helping to address the issue of wage discrimination against women. Employment lawyers – such as those working as part of Baird Quinn – frequently help to advocate for employees that have been treated unfairly. The law has been strengthened over the years with the addition of other federal laws, for instance, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

Despite these efforts, wage disparities persist, particularly for women of color and women in low-wage occupations. The EPA continues to be an important tool for combating wage discrimination and promoting equal pay in the workplace.

Fair Labor Standards Act 

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established the legal precedent for a minimum wage and overtime payments. While the minimum wage in the USA has never quite matched the rate of inflation, it is an essential employment law safety net.  

Occupational Safety And Health Act 

Every employee has the right to work in safe environments and receive compensation if they are injured while working. This is thanks to the OSHA legislation, which was introduced in 1970 under the Richard Nixon administration. Big business leaders tried to stop the signing of the act, but it was eventually passed after much debate. Without OSHA, workers would have no recourse for argument or compensation if their employers refused to offer them safe conditions.