Special Report

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

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10. Workplace safety

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, private sector workers as well as some in the public sector are entitled to a safe and healthful working environment. Workers are protected from workplace hazards — such as toxic chemical exposure, damaging noise, and unsanitary conditions — through a set of standards related to protective gear, education, and training.

These laws are enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the Department of Labor. Employers can face a maximum penalty of $13,653 per violation, and an additional daily fine of up to $13,653 for failure to comply. Willful or repeated violations can result in a maximum fine of $136,532 per violation.

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11. Rights for workers with disabilities

In the United States, people with disabilities cannot be discriminated against at work for their disability if they are capable of doing the job. Forms of discrimination include derogatory remarks, refusal to hire or promote, demands for unnecessary information regarding the disability.

Employers are also obligated to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, and disabled persons are not obligated to disclose any disability that may require accommodation prior to being hired. It is important to note that these protections do not apply to businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

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12. Break time for nursing mothers

Employers in the United States are required by law to provide mothers with enough break time to express breast milk for their nursing child. In addition, employers must provide their workers with a private place in which to nurse other than a bathroom.

These protections for working new mothers are covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA also mandates the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and rules regarding overtime pay.

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13. Equal rights for foreign workers

H-1B workers are foreign nationals, who, with an advanced education and a specialized skill set, are granted permission to work in the United States. These workers are entitled to the same compensation as American workers who perform a similar function in their organization. Additionally, employers can 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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14. Workplace injury protections

Americans who are injured on the job are entitled to a number of protections. After notifying a supervisor of a workplace injury, the employer’s insurance company must pay for any and all reasonable and necessary medical care. Injured workers may also be entitled to workers’ compensation, disability, or vocational rehabilitation benefits. These payouts allow injured workers to keep a steady income while unable to work due to an injury.

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