U.S. Work World - Career News Briefs - October 2019
It is not you.   Employment laws are confusing.

Hopefully this issue of U.S. Work World will help explain away some confusion about employment laws.
WHY LABOR LAWS ARE CONFUSING

There are two sets of labor laws - Federal labor laws (call Fair Standards Act or FLSA) and your state's labor laws. Federal and state labor laws may differ for workers who are under age 18 compared to workers age 18 and over. For example: 
 
Federal labor laws sets 14 as the minimum age for employment, and limits the number of hours worked by persons under the age of 16.  And, federal labor Laws list Seventeen Hazardous Occupations (types of work) that workers under the age of 18 MAY NOT be employed to do.  Federal Labor Laws do not require breaks or meal periods, but do require overtime after 40 hours in a workweek.
 
Your state's labor laws may set hours for workers ages 14 through 17 that differ from Federal Labor Laws. Your state's labor laws may omit mention of hazardous occupations for workers who are under age 18, and may require worker breaks and meal periods. Also, your state's labor laws may require overtime payment after 8 hours in a workday.
 
The rule is that the most restrictive of the two labor laws (federal or state) is the law employers must follow. -- the law that gives the most protection to the worker. 
 
Click here for  FEDERAL CHILD LABOR LAWS
See Child Labor Bulletin 101 (nonagricultural jobs)
See Child Labor Bulletin (agricultural jobs)
 
Use the interactive map.
See "Comparisons of State Labor Programs" for special topics.
 

Ask for the phone number of the State Labor Office nearest to you.
 
Tip:  If you call a labor office to find out if a work situation is illegal, be sure to call both the federal labor office and state labor office to receive the complete and correct answer.  Or, find the person at your school who knows about the differences between federal labor law and your state's labor laws.

WHY MINIMUM WAGE LAWS ARE CONFUSING

The federal government has not changed the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour since 2009. Therefore, states have set their own minimum wages that are higher than $7.25 per hour.  

In addition, some cities have set their own minimum wages that are even higher than the state's minimum wage.  

To find out what is happening in your state (and the states around), use the
 
See list on right side for cities within the state that have minimum wages that differ.   Click on city's name to see details about that city's minimum wage.

WHY EMPLOYMENT CERTIFICATE (also called WORK PERMIT) or AGE CERTIFICATION DOCUMENTS ARE CONFUSING

Some states require workers under age 18 to get an Employment Certificate (Work Permit) document to hold a job.  Other states require minor workers to get an Age Certification document to hold a job.  These documents usually require a parent and employer signature.  Other states have no requirement for either document.
 
Use the interactive map to find out if your state requires workers under 18 years of age to obtain an Employment Certificate (Work Permit) or Age Certification, and to  find out if this document is issued by the Labor Department or School: 

Laws governing employment certificate or work permits documents are usually printed on the reverse side of the documents.

WHY OSHA IS CONFUSING

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets and enforces workplace safety and health standards for both private and government sector workers.  Workers in some states are governed by the Federal OSHA offices - other states have established their own State OSHA offices. And, some states only cover private sector workers with their State OSHA office and leave the government workers under the Federal OSHA office.
 
Click here for an interactive map to find out:

Read or download the FEDERAL OSHA WORKERS' RIGHTS pamphlet to read about:  1) Safety and health laws for workers; 2) How to file a complaint; and 3) Whistleblower protection.  

Do not hesitate to call either the federal or state OSHA office for any questions you have. OSHA staff is helpful.

WHY EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAWS ARE CONFUSING

Federal discrimination laws protect workers from discrimination on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, citizenship status, and age (if the workers is at least 40 years old).  The federal agency that handles these discrimination complaints is the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
 
Some states have established State Offices that go by various names, and enforce discrimination laws that go further such as discrimination from sexual orientation, marital status, or weight.  

To find your state's office and state's laws about employment discrimination, visit this website (and select your state): 

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO COME TO THE U.S. AND WORK?

Students and exchange visitors  may be  allowed to work in the United States. They must obtain permission from an authorized official at their school. The authorized official is known as a Designed School Official (DSO) for students and the Responsible Officer (RO) for exchange visitors.
 
Immigrants will need:  
1)   Permanent Resident Card, also known as a Green Card Form I-551
2)  Employment Authorization Document EAD Form I-765 -- OR 
3)  Employment-related visa which allows working for a particular employer 

Here are websites to explain these complex laws.

U.S. Citzenship and Immigration Services Website

E-VERIFY
Some employers require workers to participate in the federal government's E-VERIFY system. The E-VERIFY computer database compares the new hire's information and documents submitted by the employer to government records to verify that the worker is eligible to work in the U.S.  

If the employer receives a positive result for the new worker, the employer knows that worker is properly authorized to work in the U.S.  

If the employer receives a negative result, the worker must be contacted in a private setting and allowed 8 business days to resolve the issue (that may require a visit to the local Social Security office). 

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