Laws Governing Workers And The Workplace That Employs Them
- What does the Constitution tell us about our rights as older workers?
Any citizen concerned about their rights should be familiar with the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; whether you suspect that your rights under the Constitution are being violated or you just want to know what rights are afforded to you. Aging Boomers’ should know their rights as they pertain to the workplace and the Constitution is the starting point. I have highlighted some of the pertinent statements in these documents that specifically deal with equality.
Constitution of the United States
The Constitution of the United States comprises the primary law of the U.S. Federal Government. It also describes the three chief branches of the Federal Government and their jurisdictions. In addition, it lays out the basic rights of citizens of the United States. The Constitution of the United States is the oldest Federal constitution in existence and was framed by a convention of delegates from twelve of the thirteen original states in Philadelphia in May 1787. The Constitution is the landmark legal document of the United States.
The Constitution States, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—“
- Federal Labor Laws
There are a few key laws governing and regulating employees and employers in the work place. Check them out and think about how your workplace complies with these laws.
Department of Labor
The Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws. These mandates and the regulations that implement them cover many workplace activities for about 10 million employers and 125 million workers.
Following are links to some of these laws as well as some brief descriptions of many of DOL’s principal statutes most commonly applicable to businesses, job seekers, workers, retirees, contractors, and grantees. For authoritative information and references to fuller descriptions on these laws, you should consult the statutes and regulations themselves.
Other Important Laws:
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
The ADEA prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 years of age or older. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (Pub. L. 101-433) amended several sections of the ADEA. In addition, section 115 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-166) amended section 7(e) of the ADEA (29 U. S.C. 626(e)).
In the Act Congress finds and declares that:
(1) in the face of rising productivity and affluence, older workers find themselves disadvantaged in their efforts to retain employment, and especially to regain employment when displaced from jobs;
(2) the setting of arbitrary age limits regardless of potential for job performance has become a common practice, and certain otherwise desirable practices may work to the disadvantage of older persons;
(3) the incidence of unemployment, especially long-term unemployment with resultant deterioration of skill, morale, and employer acceptability is, relative to the younger ages, high among older workers; their numbers are great and growing; and their employment problems grave;
(4) the existence in industries affecting commerce, of arbitrary discrimination in employment because of age, burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce.
(b) It is therefore the purpose of this Act to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.
Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. Sections 6101-6107)
It is the purpose of this chapter to prohibit discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance.
Civil Rights Act of 1991 – Pub. L. 102-166
The Civil Rights Act of 1991 is a United States statute that was passed in response to a series of United States Supreme Court decisions limiting the rights of employees who had sued their employers for discrimination. The Act represented the first effort since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to modify some of the basic procedural and substantive rights provided by federal law in employment discrimination cases: it provided for the right to trial by jury on discrimination claims and introduced the possibility of emotional distress damages, while limiting the amount that a jury could award.
Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (1990) -Pub. L. No. 101-433
An Act to amend the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 to clarify the protections given to older individuals in regard to employee benefit plans, and for other purposes. A federal law that makes it illegal for an employer to use an employee’s age to discriminate in benefits or for a company to target older workers for layoffs. This law also requires employers to allow employees at least 21 days to consider waivers not to sue offered by an employer in exchange for early retirement benefits.