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Business Law

Essay by review  •  October 12, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,414 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,312 Views

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1. INTRO. (Page 360)

Employment laws have been implemented to protect both employers and employees. Statutes that govern the relationship between the employer and the employee have been around for a long time. The early statutes, especially in England and the U. S., were to control and restrict workers. The earliest statutes on wages were implemented to set maximum wages. Other statutes prohibited strikes and formation of unions by workers. Unlike earlier statutes, today's statutes on wages set minimum wages. Employers also have to comply with some statutes if they employ someone outside their own family. So we can see some kind of movement from protecting the employers to the interest of the employees.

2. These changes were brought about part by industrial revolution, which changed the nature and conditions of work and the workplace. Due to use of heavy machinery, men, women, and children alike worked long hours, while others died or where disabled in accidents. Because of the way contract laws were interpreted, it was not possible for the workers to recover for their injuries or even keep their jobs if they brought forward a complaint.

3. Because of all that, some states passed statutes to protect workers, set maximum workday for women to ten hours, and prohibited employment of children in certain industries. Some of these laws were declared unconstitutional most of the time because they were interpreted as interfering with freedom of contract, which is guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of The Fourteenth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.

Today, state and federal laws give the government more power to regulate business. These laws recognize the power of an employer over an employee and the possible abuse of that power. We are going to go over employment laws in the next few minutes.

1. Workers Compensation. (Page 360)

Workers' Compensation was enacted by most states between 1917 and 1925. Before it was enacted, it was virtually impossible for employees injured on the job to recover any damages. Although common law required that it was the employer's duty to have a safe work place, employers used "contributory negligence" and "assumption of risk" for their defense. In other cases, the employer claimed "fellow servant rule," which basically said that the injury was as a result of another employee and the employer was not liable.

The introduction of workers compensation put liability of injuries that occurred at the place of work on the employer "without regard to fault." (It's a compromise between the employer and the employee. Punitive and emotional damages cannot be recovered.)

Not everyone is covered, for example, employers with three or less employees are exempt. Also protected are charitable organizations as well as farming industries. If you are not covered, you can sue the employer in tort.

2. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) (Page 361)

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 apply to all businesses that affect interstate commerce. It imposes a general duty on employers to prevent hazard in the workplace in an effort to protect the safety and health of employees. Employers have to comply with health and safety standards established by the Secretary of Labor. Workers have to be informed of hazards chemicals in their workplace and are protected if they refuse to do work that they believe might cause death or injury. Employers are required to report on-the-job injuries within forty-eight hours. It's enforced by Occupational Safety and Health Administration, whose inspectors can come to a workplace at any time without notice.

3. Family and Medical Leave Act (Page 362)

This act provides job security to employees with serious health conditions, as well as leave periods for family related illnesses. It allows employees to balance work and personal life demands. Employees can get up to 12 unpaid weeks per year to take care of themselves, a spouse, a child, or a parent. The requirement is that you must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. This act affects employers with 50 or more employees.

1. Fair Labor Standards Act (Page 363)

This act was passed in 1938 to set minimum hourly wage and pay time and half for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week, even if the employee works voluntarily. Higher paid employees such as professionals, administrative, as well as executive are excluded. It also prohibits employment of children under 14 year old or older children in hazardous jobs, which is considered oppressive child labor. If an employer wrongfully withholds an employee's pay, the employer must pay twice the amount. The employee or the Department of Labor can bring a suit. Some states have their own wage statutes, as well as statutes dealing with garnishment of wages. The book cites a California statute that requires discharged employees to be paid immediately.

Garnishment is a court order that makes money or property held by a debtor (the garnishee) subject to the claim of a creditor. They limit the amount of wages subject to garnishment.

2. Employment Retirement Income Security Act. (ERISA) (Page 365)

This act was established in 1974 to prevent problems such as careless management of funds, dishonest, or underfunding of employer and union-sponsored pension plans. It also protects employees who are fired, change employers, or whose employers go out of business from losing

their benefits. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation was established to insure plans assets are not sufficient enough to pay benefits. The pension plan pays a premium for each covered employee to fund the corporation. The act is enforced by Internal Revenue Services and the Department of Labor.

The next few acts are on union activities. (Page 366-367)

Unions have been around for a long long time. But many employers have been opposed to unions for as long as organized action by workers has been around. Workers who organized unions to seek hire wages and shorter hours were prosecuted for conspiracy because the courts their activities as criminal because they restrained trade. The book cites a strike for by printers in Philadelphia in 1786 for a $6-per week pay as the first recorded organized actions by workers in the U S. Employers used the "yellow-dog contract." This required anyone taking a job to promise not to join a union. The yellow-dog contract was prohibited by the Norris-LaGuardia

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