About Employment and Labor


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws which affect around 150 million US workers at over 10 million workplaces.

Labor laws are designed to help protect employees and contractors from being exploited by employers, apply for compensation & ensure benefit security, amongst other things.

Following is a brief summary of the USA’s major labor laws. For authoritative information and references to fuller descriptions of these laws, you can either consult the statutes and regulations themselves or get in touch with a qualified US labor & employment lawyer or law firm.

Wages and Hours

The Fair Labor Standards Act sets standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most private and public employment in the US. The act is administered by the Wage & Hour Division and requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay.

For nonagricultural operations, it restricts the hours that children under age 16 can work and forbids the employment of children under age 18 in certain jobs deemed too dangerous. For agricultural operations, it prohibits the employment of children under age 16 during school hours and in certain jobs deemed too dangerous.

Workplace Safety and Health

The Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) Act is administered by the The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
Safety and health conditions in most private industries are regulated by OSHA or OSHA-approved state programs, which also cover public sector employers. Employers covered by the OSH Act must comply with OSHA’s regulations and safety and health standards.

Employers also have a general duty under the OSH Act to provide their employees with work and a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards. OSHA is allowed to enforce the law through workplace inspections and investigations. Compliance assistance and other cooperative programs are also available.

Workers’ Compensation

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs does not have a role in the administration or oversight of state workers’ compensation programs. If you have worked for a private company or a state government, you should contact the workers compensation program for the state in which you lived or worked to discuss your compensation issue, there are also many specialist law firms and lawyers who can manage state matters for claimants.

Federally there are various USA acts that cover workers compensation for specific industry sectors

The Longshore & Harbour Workers’ Compensation Act administered by The Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP)

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program provides a lump-sum payment of $150,000 and prospective medical benefits to employees (or their survivors) of the Department of Energy and its contractors and subcontractors as a result of cancer caused by exposure to radiation, or certain illnesses caused by exposure to beryllium or silica incurred in the performance of duty

The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA)

The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA)establishes a comprehensive and exclusive workers’ compensation program which pays compensation for the disability or death of a federal employee resulting from personal injury sustained while in the performance of duty.

The Black Lungs Benefits Act

The Black Lungs Benefits Act provides monthly cash payments and medical benefits to coal miners totally disabled from pneumoconiosis (“black lung disease”) arising from their employment in the nation’s coal mines. The statute also provides monthly benefits to a deceased miner’s survivors if the miner’s death was due to black lung disease.

Employee Benefit Security

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates employers who offer pension or welfare benefit plans for their employees.

Title I of ERISA is administered by the Employment Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) and imposes a wide range of financial, disclosure and reporting requirements on fiduciaries of pension and welfare benefit plans.

These provisions preempt many similar state laws. Under Title IV, certain employers and plan administrators must fund an insurance system to protect certain kinds of retirement benefits, with premiums paid to the federal government.

EBSA also administers reporting requirements for continuation of health-care provisions,

Unions and their Members

The Labor-Management Reporting & Disclosure Act of 1959 (the Landrum-Griffin Act) deals with the relationship between a union and its members. It protects union funds and promotes union democracy by requiring labor organizations to file annual financial reports, by requiring union officials, employers, and labor consultants to file reports regarding certain labor relations practices, and by establishing standards for the election of union officers.

Employee Protection

Most labor and public safety laws and many environmental laws ensure whistleblower protections for employees who complain about violations of the law by their employers.

Remedies can include job reinstatement and payment of back wages. OSHA enforces the whistleblower protections in most laws.
Examples would be the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act which allows for certain individuals who have served in the armed forces to have the right to reemployment with the employer they were with when they entered service and the Employee Polygraph Protection Act which bars most employers from using lie detectors on employees.

Garnishment of Wages

Garnishment of employee wages by employers is regulated under the Consumer Credit Protection Act administered by the Wage & Hour Division.

Family and Medical Leave Act

Also administered by the Wage & Hour Division , the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers of 50 or more employees to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious illness of the employee or a spouse, child or parent.

Veterans’ Preference

Veterans and other eligible persons have special employment rights with the federal government. They are provided preference in initial hiring and protection in reductions in force.

Government Contracts, Grants, or Financial Aid

  • Recipients of government contracts, grants or financial aid are subject to wage, hour, benefits, and safety and health standards under:
    The Davis Bacon Act which requires payment of prevailing wages and benefits to employees of contractors engaged in federal government construction projects;
  • The McNamara O’Hara Service Contract Act which sets wage rates and other labor standards for employees of contractors furnishing services to the federal government; and;
  • The Walsh Healy Public Contracts Act which requires payment of minimum wages and other labor standards by contractors providing materials and supplies to the federal government.

Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Act

The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act regulates the hiring and employment activities of agricultural employers, farm labor contractors, and associations using migrant and seasonal agricultural workers. The Act prescribes wage protections, housing and transportation safety standards, farm labor contractor registration requirements, and disclosure requirements.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts agricultural workers from overtime premium pay, but requires the payment of the minimum wage to workers employed on larger farms (farms employing more than approximately seven full-time workers.


Most laws with labor provisions regulating the transportation industry are administered by agencies outside the Department of Labor. The rights of employees in the mass transit industry are protected when federal funds are used to acquire, improve, or operate a transit system. Under the Federal Transit law, the Department of Labor is responsible for approving employee protection arrangements before the Department of Transportation can release funds to grantees.

Plant Closings and Layoffs

Such occurrences may be subject to the Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act (WARN) This act offers employees early warning of impending layoffs or plant closings.


Employment and Labor Case Law

LYNN HLATKY vs. STEWARD HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, LLC.Suffolk. September 9, 2019. – April 28, 2020.Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Cypher, JJ.Contract, Performance and breach, Implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, Damages. Damages, Breach of contract, Remittitur, Interest. Interest. Judgment, Interest. Practice, Civil, Interest.Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on February 7, 2014… click to see more


MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.Petitioners, a class of female employees of the Department of Social Services and of the Board of Education of the city of New York, commenced this action under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 in July 1971.1 The gravamen of the complaint was that the     Board and the Department had as a matter of official policy compelled pregnant employees to take unpaid leaves of absence before such leaves were required for medical reasons.2 Cf. Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974). The suit sought injunctive relief and backpay… click to see more


JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court. This case requires us to address again the nature of the evidentiary burden placed upon the defendant in an employment discrimination suit brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e et seq. The narrow question presented is whether, after the plaintiff has proved a prima facie case of discriminatory treatment, the burden shifts to the defendant to persuade the court by a preponderance of the evidence that legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the challenged employment action existed… click to see more


JUSTICE O’CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.This case presents two questions concerning the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 88 Stat. , as amended, 29 U. S. C. § 1001 et seq. First, we address the appropriate standard of judicial review of benefit determinations by fiduciaries or plan administrators under ERISA. Second, we determine which persons are “participants” entitled to obtain information about benefit plans covered by ERISA. … click to see more


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.Seven employees of the Swift and Company packing plant at Fort Worth, Texas, brought an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act to recover overtime, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees, totaling approximately $77,000. The District Court rendered judgment denying this claim wholly, 53 F.Supp. 1020, and the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. 136 F.2d 112… click to see more


Lawyer Reviewed Cases

Mirzaie v. Smith Cogeneration Inc.

reviewed by Buchanan Williams & O’Brien, P.C.


There are two questions of law presented for review: (1) when an employment contract contains a minimum percentage for a bonus, but no maximum, may a jury determine a bonus higher than the minimum based on what it determines to be the reasonable worth of the employee’s services; and (2) did the trial court properly find, as a matter of law, that evidence presented… click to see more

Knox College v. Celotex Corp.

reviewed by The Royko Group

Knox College, plaintiff, filed suit in the circuit court of Knox County against the defendants, Celotex Corporation (supplier of materials), Perkins and Will (architects), C. Iber and Sons (general contractor), and the Travelers Indemnity Company (surety on the performance bond of Iber)… click to see more

Dade County School Board v. Radio Station WQBA

reviewed by Clark Law Group

The Dade County School Board (DCSB) appealed a final judgment requiring it to reimburse Three Kings Parade, Inc., Radio Station WQBA, Susquehanna Broadcasting Company, and the City of Miami (hereinafter referred to collectively as “Three Kings”) for monies paid to settle various personal injury claims… click to see more


reviewed by Chouhan Law Firm

We granted certiorari to the Court of Appeals to examine its opinion in a case involving a number of contractual relationships wherein the appellate court reversed a portion of the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Atlanta Market Center Management (AMC) and Equitable Real Estate Management and others (Equitable)… click to see more

Pfeiffer v. Georgia Department of Transportation

reviewed by Spizzirri Law, L.L.C.

We granted certiorari in this wrongful death case to examine whether the Court of Appeals of Georgia, in affirming the grant of summary judgment to the Georgia Department of Transportation, erred in failing to address contentions raised by Karen Pfeiffer because they were not raised in the trial court. 1 Because the court of appeals’s decision is consistent with the purpose of summary judgment… click to see more

Employment and Labor Case Summaries

Employment and Labor Stories

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in AnyLaw Case Summaries and Law Thoughts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this website.

Articles do not constitute legal advice.

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