Laws That Protect You at Your Workplace in the United States

With cases like workplace discrimination and retaliation increasing, it is more important than ever to learn and understand the laws that safeguard you in the workplace.

Every country has various comprehensive labor laws designed to support and protect employees. From the right to fair compensation, minimum wage to 40-hour workweek, as a worker, it is important that you are aware of this legislation and understand the responsibilities.

Specifically, it is essential you understand and know about the most important federal laws, including the eight listed below.

Workplace Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) was passed in 1970 with the main objective of creating safer and healthier workplaces. Designed to minimize the dangers in the American workplace, the OSH Act protects the employees from chemical and mechanical hazards.

The act makes sure that the workers are maintaining a safe working environment, provided with appropriate protective gear and following all safety standards.

The Minimum Wage

Established in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ensures that American workers receive a minimum wage for their work. This law also sets minimum age requirements along with minimum wage and overtime.

The act even ensures that non-exempt workers get time-and-a-half for any overtime they perform. The act additionally established a tipping exemption to the law, in which employees who earn more than $30 in tips can get as little as $2.13 per hour. But if a worker’s tips and regular wages do not make up to the current federal minimum wage, the employer is lawfully bound to make up the difference.

Health Coverage

The Affordable Care Act (2010) promises to make health insurance coverage a right for workers of most medium to large-sized businesses. For this, the ACA established the “Established Shared Responsibility Payment,” a provision that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer the workers a minimal level of health insurance coverage.

If the businesses fail to do so, they could face a substantial penalty under the ACA. Besides, to qualify as a “full-time employee,” employees must work a minimum of 30 hours a week.

Unemployment Benefits

Benefiting the unemployed workers, the 1939 Federal Unemployment Tax Act provides funding for federal-state joint programs intended to disburse unemployment insurance to employees who are fired or laid off.

To pass for unemployment benefits, you must have been unemployed due to circumstances outside of your control. Fired and Laid-off workers must also meet any state-specific guidelines to qualify for payments. Qualified workers can receive unemployment compensation for up to 26 weeks, even though the payment can be extended during periods of recession.

Social Security

The Social Security Act of 1935 provides disabled and retired employees with a financial safety net, bringing many seniors out of poverty in the process. Full benefits are paid out monthly based on the workers’ year of birth and previous monthly earnings.

These advantages are financed by a payroll tax, with employees and employers contributing an equal amount to the fund.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was approved into law by Bill Clinton in 1993. Under FMLA, qualified employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year if they choose to stay home after the birth or adoption of a child. The act also provides protection and time-off workers who need time off to deal with the critical illness of a family member.

To qualify for these benefits, you must have been with the organization for a minimum of 12 months and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours over the past year. Also, it only applies to organizations that employ 50 or more workers within a 75-mile radius.

Whistle-blower Protection

Passed in 1989, The Whistle-blower Protection Act was designed to protect whistle-blowers in the federal government. Currently, there is a patchwork of federal statutes made to protect employees who report the wrongdoings of their employers. Often, these protections are built into other pieces of legislation that govern an industry.

OSHA’s whistle-blower protection program is responsible for protecting the rights of workers, who may fear to lose their job if they report illegal activities of the organization they work for.

Employment-Based Discrimination

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is outlined to protect eligible employees against discrimination based on race, colour, sex, religions, or national origin. This act usually applies to employers who have at least 15 employees that may include state, local, or federal governments.

If you think you’ve been discriminated against as a job applicant or employee, you can file a complaint with the EEOC who will inform your organization of the charge and start an inquiry to decide the validity of the claim.


As an employee, you must know that you are protected under various laws that make sure you are treated fairly in the workplace. So, keep the laws mentioned above in mind and report immediately if you see any regulation in your workplace.

Author Bio: Hi, my name is Jason K. Strauss. I love to write on topics such as laws, technology, and cryptocurrencies. Also, I intend to write easily readable articles that could help people. Don't forget to hop on my blog for more interesting stuff.