Special Report

The Labor Laws Your Boss Doesn't Want You to Know About

Thomas C. Frohlich, John Harrington

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Break time for nursing mothers

As women began populating the workplace in greater numbers, regulations to make accommodations for new mothers who are nursing their newborns were passed. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that employers to provide time and an area for a nursing mom to express breast milk for her baby for one year after her child’s birth.

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Health-care worker rights

With home health care growing dramatically, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor requires payment for travel time for workers going to and from the work site and work-related meetings and training.

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Rights for H-2B workers

Employers of H-2B workers — foreign nationals working temporarily in nonagricultural or nonprofessional jobs in the United States — may not compel them to pay for any expenses related to obtaining the labor certification. Such expenses include petition filing fee, the employer’s attorneys’ fees or agent fees, or expenses pertaining to recruitment.

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Rights for H-1B workers

H-1B workers — those who have specialized skills gained through graduate and undergraduate studies — must be paid the same as those workers with similar experience and receive the same fringe benefits as American workers. Employers may not require these workers to pay for expenses related to obtaining the labor certification, petition filing fees, or employer’s attorneys’ fees or agent fees.

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Nail salon worker protections

The plight of nail salon workers, mostly from Asian countries, has received media attention in recent years. Nail salon products that contain hazardous chemicals must provide warning and precautionary statements, according to OSHA. Salons also must provide safety data sheets to workers.

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Forest worker rights

Employers of those who work in the forestry sector, among the most dangerous areas to work, are allowed to deduct from workers’ pay the costs of providing the workers with food and housing. An employer is not allowed, however, to take away pay for items such as tools or equipment required to perform the job, if the deductions reduce pay below minimum wage.

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Rights for workers with disabilities

An employer with a certain certificate from the Department of Labor may be permitted to pay a worker less than minimum age if an employee’s disability reduces his or her ability to do the job. Employers are also required to tell each worker in person and in writing that he or she will earn less than the minimum wage.