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Employment Law Resource Guide

Eric Ciechanowski
By Eric Ciechanowski
Last Updated: October 23, 2020
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Whether you’re a part-time employee or the CEO of a major company, employment law is relevant to you and your workplace. The United States Department of Labor was founded in 1913 and, in its 100-year-plus history, has constantly worked to protect the rights and safety of workers across the country. Today, employment law is as important as ever, and if you’d like to learn more about it then you’ve come to the right place. Inside you’ll find more than 50 resources, including how-to guides, websites, articles and more, all of which can help you to better understand employment law and its many nuances.

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General Employment Law Resources

“Employment law” is an umbrella term that refers to a set of many different laws and regulations, which pertain to both employers and employees. This section contains resources aimed to help you get a clearer idea of what employment law is and what topics it includes.

What is Employment Law? – This video introduction covers all the need-to-know basics in less than eight minutes. Start here if you’re completely unfamiliar with employment law.

Employment Law Guide – This comprehensive list of employment laws comes straight from the Department of Labor and makes for a great point of reference. You can choose whether you want to simply skim over the overview, jump to the section, which interests you most or read through the entire guide.

Summary of the Major Laws of the Department of Labor – Follow this link for a more concise overview of major United States employment laws, from wages and hours to transportation.

Minimum Wage Laws in the States – Depending on the state, minimum wage can be lower than, equal to or higher than the federal minimum wage. If you’d like to know what the minimum wage is in your state or any other state, take a look at this interactive map.

OSHA Law & Regulations – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees all laws that pertain to worker safety. Here, you can find an extensive list of every current OSHA law and regulation.

Workers’ Rights – The Department of Labor explains what workers’ rights are and what they are designed to accomplish, including the abolishment of child labor and the implementation of safe working conditions.

Workers’ Rights Booklet – This booklet from OSHA outlines both the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers.

State Labor Offices – Since employment laws can vary by state, it’s important to know the ins and outs of your state’s specific set of regulations. This list of labor offices is organized by state, and includes contact information for each office.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits FAQ – Read through this list of frequently asked questions to learn what workers’ compensation is and how it works.

State Workers’ Compensation Officials – If you’d like to find out how workers’ compensation laws apply to you, your employees or your employer, you might want to consider contacting your state’s workers’ compensation office. This list is organized alphabetically by state and includes all relevant contact information for each office.

How Labor Unions Work – This in-depth article covers the history of labor unions as well as the relevance of unions today. If you could use an introduction to unions in general, start here.

Hiring Process Law Resources

Although a great deal of employment law deals with everything that occurs after an employee is hired, there are also a number of regulations which specify what is and is not acceptable during the hiring process itself. If you’re currently searching for a job or looking to hire a new employee, these resources could prove to be helpful.

Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices – This resource from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides an in-depth explanation of what is not allowed during the hiring process.

Think Before You Hire: Maintain a Legal Hiring Process – This article is aimed specifically at employers, and contains useful advice for making sure that your hiring process is effective, efficient and lawful.

Job Interview Questions That Are Illegal – If you’re an employer, read through these specific examples of illegal job interview questions as well as a collection of acceptable questions you can ask instead.

How to Handle Illegal or Inappropriate Interview Questions – If you’re an applicant rather than an employer, use this guide to help you determine how you can respond to questions which violate equal employment opportunity laws.

Lawsuits Based on the Hiring Process – You may be wondering what happens as a result of employers using illegal hiring practices. This article goes over common legal claims based on the hiring process.

What Employers Should not List in a Job Ad – Oftentimes, the contents of a job advertisement are overlooked when considering what does and does not qualify as discriminatory. This article explains why the contents of a job listing are important, and what should never be included.

Background Checks: What Job Applicants and Employees Should Know – If you’re an employee or applicant, read this. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains what kinds of background checks employers are permitted to conduct, and what to do if an employer carries out an illegal check on you.

Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know – If you’re an employer, take a look at this. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains how you can legally obtain background information and avoid engaging discriminatory practices.

Workplace Harassment Resources

Maintaining a healthy and respectful work environment is essential for ensuring the wellbeing of both employers and employees, and that includes the elimination of unlawful harassment. These resources can not only help you to identify when harassment goes from being irritating to illegal, but also help you learn how to properly mitigate any harassment that may occur.

Harassment – If you’re not sure what, exactly, qualifies as harassment, read this definition according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Understanding Different Types of Harassment – Many offices hold regular sexual harassment training sessions, but there are many other types of harassment that are just as important but may not be as frequently discussed.

How to Prevent Harassment in the Workplace – As an employer, prevention can be one of the best strategies at your disposal when trying to reduce workplace harassment. This article contains various strategies for preventing harassment.

5 Steps for Handling a Workplace Bully – If you’ve become a target for harassment or bullying in your place of work, you don’t have to sit idly by and hope that things will blow over. There are many steps you can take to protect yourself and improve your situation, and this article describes a few of those steps.

How To File a Harassment Claim – When a case of harassment can’t be solved with conflict resolution techniques, it may be time to file an official claim. Read this article to find out how.

How to Handle Discrimination and Harassment Complaints – If you’re an employer, then you probably already know that a relatively straightforward harassment complaint can swiftly devolve into a convoluted mess. Use these tips to quickly and effectively deal with such complaints while reducing legal risks for your company.

Labor Union Resources

One of the hallmarks of employment law in the United States is its long and tumultuous relationship with labor unions. Whether you’re an employee or an employer, the resources in this section will help you understand unions and the laws surrounding them.

Labor Union Definition – If you haven’t thought or talked about about unions since your high school American History class, start with this thorough but succinct definition of what a union actually is. Includes examples as well as definitions of related terms.

History of Labor Unions – Understanding how unions have evolved and changed over time is essential to understanding how unions work today. This history of unions includes a timeline, a list of important people and a photo gallery.

National Labor Organizations with Membership over 100,000 – Although there is a union for nearly every trade and profession, this list of labor organizations with more than 100,000 members is a good way to learn about the largest unions that currently exist.

Employer/Union Rights and Obligations – Here, the National Labor Relations Board explains what employers and unions may and may not do under the National Labor Relations Act.

Employee Rights – Learn more about employee rights in regards to unions. Covers union activity, non-union activity and a list of employee types that are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act.

How to Join or Form a Union – If you’re a worker looking to land a job which comes with the opportunity to join a union, check out this how-to guide. Also includes advice for those interested in forming a new union.

Hiring and Managing Union Employees – If you’re an employer looking for advice when it comes to employing union members, take a look at this list of effective strategies for building a positive relationship between you and your employees.

Employment Law Resources: People with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 brought national attention to the struggles faced by people with disabilities searching for a job, taking public transportation or visiting private and public establishments. Today, many people with disabilities still have a difficult time finding employment. The resources in this section will allow you to learn about the protected rights of disabled people, find jobs which can be performed by people with disabilities and discover how you can go about hiring people with disabilities.

Federal Government Definition of “Disability” – If you’re wondering what qualifies as a disability, visit this resource. While there is no singular definition of the word “disability,” this page defines what “disability” means on a federal and state level.

Introduction to the ADA – Although you may have a basic idea of what the ADA accomplished, this page explains regulations, amendments and responsibilities that you might not be aware of.

Office of Disability Employment Policy – This office of the Department of Labor publishes news, events, statistics, a newsletter and more, all of which are relevant to people with disabilities in the workforce.

Employer Incentives for Hiring People with Disabilities – Did you know that there are federal tax incentives offered to employers who hire disabled people? Find out more about them here.

Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) – This free service from the government aims to help organizations in both the public and private sector recruit, hire and retain employees with disabilities.

Workforce Recruitment Program – This federally run service connects disabled college students with recruiters and employers for the purpose of bringing qualified students with disabilities into the workforce.

Disability Job Exchange – If you have a disability and are looking for a new job, check out this website. With tens of thousands of job listings, this is a great place for people with disabilities to connect with employers and discover opportunities.

Disability Discrimination – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains what disability discrimination is and how you can identify it.

Workplace Policies on Disability Discrimination – If you’re an employer looking for ways to prevent disability discrimination within your organization, take a look at this list of effective policies and practices.

How to Handle Disability Discrimination in the Workplace – If you find yourself facing discrimination in the workplace based on your disability, come here to find out what you can do to protect yourself and your rights.

Employment Law Resources: Race and Ethnicity

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the most important legal landmarks in American history, since it placed a federal ban on discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national identity. Both employers and employees can benefit from the following resources that address the types of discrimination that the Civil Rights Act prohibits.

Civil Rights Act – outlines the events that occurred before, during and after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

Race/Color Discrimination – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides a comprehensive definition of race/color discrimination. Visit this resource if you’re not sure what, precisely, qualifies as race/color discrimination.

Affirmative Action Definition – Read the Department of Labor’s definition of affirmative action. Here, you’ll also find additional information such a related laws and regulations.

What is an Affirmative Action Plan? – The Human Resources department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explains an affirmative action plan as a management tool.

Sample Affirmative Action Programs – If you’re looking for a concrete example of affirmative action programs, check out these three samples from the Department of Labor.

Who Supports Affirmative Action? – This handout from the American Civil Liberties Union lists a variety of companies, universities and other organizations that support affirmative action.

How to Prevent Racism in the Workplace – If you’re an employer who wants to create a more inclusive workplace, click here. This resource contains nine effective strategies for preventing race discrimination.

How to Deal With Racism at Work – Should an act or acts of racism ever occur within your workplace, you’ll want to be prepared to handle the situation. This article can help both employers and employees figure out how to respond to race discrimination.

Employment Law Resources: Gender and Sexual Orientation

Although the Civil Rights Act bans discrimination against people based on their gender as well as their race or ethnicity, sex-based discrimination is often viewed as an issue in and of itself. In this section, you can learn what sex-based discrimination is, how to avoid it and what you can do if you’re ever a victim of it.

Sex-Based Discrimination – This page on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website explains what sex-based discrimination is.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace – Learn what it means to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation rather than their sex.

The Effects of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace – Once you learn what gender discrimination is, you might be wondering what kinds of problems it can cause. This article provides various examples of effects that can result from gender discrimination.

How Gender Bias Hurts Men – Some people are under the impression that gender discrimination only affects women. This article explains how gender discrimination has a negative impact on men as well.

Workplace Discrimination: The LGBT Workforce – Read about common issues faced by the LGBT workforce.

Overcoming Sexism in the Workplace – It’s one thing to know about gender discrimination, but it’s another thing to actually prevent and stop it. Use this resource to find out how you can effectively halt workplace sexism in its tracks.

Solutions for LGBT Discrimination in the Workplace and in School – Visit this resource in order to learn how you can avoid and resolve sexual orientation-based discrimination in the workplace.

Business Etiquette Tips to Deal With Sexism in the Workplace – This set of tips can be useful to anyone, whether they’re male or female, who is experiencing sex discrimination in the workplace. Includes advice on everything from setting professional boundaries to reporting an incident to HR.