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State V Federal: A Comparison Of Employment Law

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State v Federal: A Comparison of Employment Law

Jack Amore

University of Phoenix

Employment Law/MGT 434

Alicia Phidd, M.P.S., J.D.

May 23, 2006

State v Federal: A Comparison of Employment Law

Employment Law covers a vast arena in the modern workplace. Only by a thorough knowledge of the different areas employment law covers can managers be effective in insulating their company's exposure to possible devastating lawsuits. In addition to the many laws and regulations set forth by the federal government that affect institutions across the United States, individual states and municipalities have enacted their own sets of provisions to which managers must adhere while operating locally. In this paper I will explain how the federal and state systems of government may or may not differ in their application of employment laws, and by example a specific employment protection that is provided by the state of Florida that is not offered by the federal system.

Federal Employment Law

The United States Department of Labor is the controlling agency that deals with matters of federal employment law. Posted in plain language on their website are many of the areas covered by employment law statutes which may include recruitment, wages and hours of work, safety and health standards, health benefits and retirement standards, working conditions, and even non-U.S. citizen's work authorization (United States Department of Labor, n.d.). State laws typically mirror Federal statutes but may include additional protections for the employer or the employee, such as prohibitions based on marital status or sexual orientation (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2004). As stated, there are many different areas of workplace law: here I will examine three of them; recruitment, wages and hours of work, and safety and health standards.


One of the main functions of any company is to hire employees, and this may be the single source of the majority of discrimination actions faced by employers. The regulations that cover recruitment are covered by a number of Federal and State statutes, among them being Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967), the Veterans' Rehabilitation Act (1973), the Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986), the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), as well state laws that encourage fair employment practices but are different from state to state (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2004, chap. 4).

Wages and Hours of Work

The United States Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) established basic rules for the payment of wages and the establishment for standards of overtime pay. Currently, covered workers are required to receive a minimum wage of not less than $5.15 an hour and overtime pay not less than one and one-half times the worker's pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek (U.S. Department of Labor, n.d.) Here again, states are free to expand upon the basic statutes put forth by the federal standards. Florida mandates a minimum wage of $6.40 per hour and Alaska's rate is $7.15 (United States Department of Labor, 2006). Regarding overtime, in addition to the Federal requirement to pay an employee one and one-half times an employee's hourly wage after 40 hours in one week, Florida requires overtime to be paid after an employee works 10 hours in one day, while in California, the hourly requirement is after 8 hours daily (CCH Business Owner's Toolkit, n.d.).

Safety and Health Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (1971) is the Federal governing body for the safety and health standards for employers and employees in the United States. The Administration covers a vast array of rules and regulations dependent

on the type of work performed (United States Department of Labor, 2004). States will typically expand these regulations based upon specific safety requirements for their particular employment practice. For example, in dealing with ergonomics in the workplace, the Federal Government has issued a series of guidelines (United States Department of Labor, n.d.) while the state of Washington adopted the ergonomics rule WAC 296-62-051 on May 26, 2000 after a 20-month rule-making process which was designed to "reduce employee exposure to specific workplace hazards that can cause or aggravate work-related musculoskeletal disorders" (Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, n.d.).

Age Discrimination

GENERAL DYNAMICS LAND SYSTEMS, INC. v. CLINE et al. No. 02--1080 (United States Supreme Court, Argued November 12, 2003-Decided February 24, 2004) A union contract agreed to by the company provided better benefits for those aged 40 and older. Some younger employees sued, claiming they were discriminated against because of their age. The court threw out



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