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Employment Issues

Laws That Govern Employment Practices

The Civil Rights Act of 1866

This law provides that all persons within the United States will have the same right to make and enforce contracts free of racial discrimination, including employment contracts.

The Civil Rights Act of 1870
Section 1981 of the 1870 law prohibits racial discrimination in all aspects of contractual relationships, including written and unwritten employment contracts.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938
The FLSA requires employers to pay employees (a) at a rate equal to the minimum hourly wage for their first 40 hours of work per week, and (b) at a rate of one and one-half times of their regular rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a work week.

Employees are exempt from FLSA provisions, and thus ineligible for overtime pay, when these requirements are met:

  • The employee qualifies as either executive, administrative, professional, highly skilled in a computer software-related occupation, or works in certain types of outside sales.
  • The employee's compensation is quoted on a salary or fee basis. That means they receive a full week's pay for a week in which they perform any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked.
  • The employee meets certain minimum earnings requirements (for example, not less than $455/week).

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that FLSA exemptions are likely to be applied only to employees and establishments that "plainly and unmistakably" meet "the letter and the spirit" of the law. Since numerous "tests" and restrictions apply to each type of exemption, you should be extremely careful when denying an employee overtime.

The FLSA generally does not regulate employer practices with respect to vacations, severance or sick pay, rest periods, holidays, weekend or shift premiums, pay raises or fringe benefits.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963
This Act, which is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, make it unlawful to pay workers of one sex at a rate different from that paid to the other sex for the same work.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VII prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment, including job advertising and pre-job testing, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to prohibit bias on the basis of pregnancy.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
This statute prohibits employment discrimination against individuals aged 40 or older. It applies to employers of 20 or more workers, labor unions, and employment agencies.

Executive Order 11246 (1965), as amended in 1967
This prohibits job discrimination by all federal contractors or subcontractors with contracts in excess of $10,000 per year on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin and requires covered contractors to practice affirmative action. Covered contractors having more than 50 employees and receiving contracts in excess of $50,000 per year must develop a written affirmative action plan.

The Civil Rights Act of 1971 (42 U.S.C. Section 1983)
The 1971 law prohibits employment discrimination committed by persons acting "under color of" state and local laws. It applies to race, color, gender, religious, or national origin discrimination.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
This prohibits sex discrimination by all educational programs receiving federal financial assistance.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 503 of the law prohibits discrimination against disabled persons by federal contractors. These employers are required to take affirmative action in hiring qualified individuals with disabilities. Section 504 of the Act prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities by institutions or programs that receive federal funds.

The Vietnam-Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974
This law requires affirmative action by government contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified veterans of the Vietnam-era and disabled veterans. Obligates employers to rehire these qualified individuals other than temporary employees who leave work for military service and who apply for reinstatement within the set time limits.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974
This statute requires a pension program for most employers of greater than 20 employees. In addition, requires an employer to communicate terms of all benefit plans to all employees.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
This statute prohibits employers of four or more workers from discriminating on the basis of citizenship status or national origin. The Act's anti-discrimination provisions do not apply to illegal aliens and exemptions where citizenship is required by law.

The Americans with Disbilities Act of 1990
This statute prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment, public services and transportation, public accommodations and telecommunication services. Employers are required to consider making reasonable accommodations to a qualified individual with a disability by making existing facilities readily accessible and usable and restructuring the job, modifying work schedule, permitting part-time work, reassigning of the employee to a vacant position, acquiring or modifying equipment, unless the proposed accommodation would present an "undue hardship" for the employer.

Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990
This statute amends the age discrimination act to prohibit employers from reducing benefits because of an employee's age.

Civil Rights Act of 1991
This statute allows for compensatory and punitive damages, previously available only to racial and ethnic minorities, to be sought by victims of intentional discrimination based on sex, religion or disability.

Fair Credit Reporting Act
This statute restricts the ability of an employer to gain access to personal information without consent from a job applicant or employee. It requires notice and consent to obtain consumer reports and investigative consumer reports/ The first includes information sought through a consumer reporting agency related to a person's credit standing or capacity, character, reputation, personal characteristics and mode of living. Investigative consumer reports contain information gathered in investigations of an employee, typically for alleged wrongdoing, using interviews of persons who may have knowledge about an employee. The employer must notify the applicant or employee that it will seek the information, obtain consent and give sufficient time to correct the information before it takes adverse employment action.

Questions or comments?
Contact Richard Galván @ 480.731.8875

Maricopa Community Colleges
Office of General Counsel
2411 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281-6942
480.731.8877 / 480.731.8890 fax

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Page Updated 01/03/07

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