Career Woman

Employment laws: 4 basic laws every employee should know


This short guide summarises the four basic employment laws we should all understand, covering civil rights, disabilities, labor standards and family leave.

The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said, There is no need for red hot pokers, Hell is other people.” There is no place where this evidence more clearly than in an office. Although people are supposed to base hiring and promotion decisions on quantifiable facts and qualifications. Workers are often promoted because of cronyism. Employees are never supposed to be treated differently because of their age, sex, race, or orientation, but workplace discrimination happens every day. However, employment laws are established to protect you.

4 Employment laws everybody should understand

Whether you are just entering the workforce, hunting for a new job, or thinking of suing your company, there are four basic employment laws with which you should familiarize yourself.

Civil Rights Act

On June 11, 1963, President John F Kennedy gave a speech about the Civil Rights of American citizens. Although he would die on November 22nd of the same year, the ideas put forth in that speech would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Passed into law by President Johnson, the CRA  prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended the Jim Crow Laws which allowed businesses to have separate accommodations based on race.

The law was inspired by controversies around the issue of desegregation and the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. It was originally focused on preventing discrimination by the government. It has been modified many times over the years. if you have experienced violations of this law at work, You should contact your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office.

Americans with Disabilities Act

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. It protected people with disabilities from being discriminated against in all areas of public life including work. If you are disabled, you cannot be denied employment due to your disability as long as your employer is able to make reasonable accommodations for you. You cannot be denied a promotion because of your disability and you should not be excluded from any extracurricular work activity such as picnics or bonding activities.

If you feel that your employer has violated the ADA, you would also want to report the violation to the EEOC.

Fair Labor Standards Act

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was is known for championing the causes of lower and middle-class people. The Fair Labor Standards Act banned child labor and establish a minimum wage. It also required companies to pay for overtime. It has been modified many times over the years. It is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the United States government.

Family Medical Leave Act

The FMLA allows people to take time off of work to convalesce if they become sick or are injured. It also allows workers time off if they need to take care of an immediate family member. Your employer must allow you to take up to 12 weeks off with full benefits. They do not have to pay you during this time. The FMLA was passed into law in 1993 by president Bill Clinton. It had failed twice before under the administration of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush.

Wrongful termination is upsetting and can cause people to suffer financially and psychologically. If you feel that your employer is in violation of any of these employment laws, it is important to report them to the appropriate authorities and hire an employment attorney.


Your job provides you with money that you need to pay for your basic needs. You should never be fired or denied a promotion or job because of something that has nothing to do with your ability to perform to work. Although it may seem that your employer has all the power in the situation, employment laws are designed to protect you. Don’t be afraid to make sure they are followed.

About Bessie Hassan

Bessie Hassan is the Australian Head of PR and Money Expert at Australia’s largest financial comparison site, She is passionate about helping people find better deals and save money, and regularly blogs on the topics of money and finance. If you have any questions for Bessie, please feel free to email her at

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