For more than 100 years, Labor Day has been a federal holiday celebrating the role played by the American worker in shaping our nation's prosperity.
And though Labor Day remains the first Monday of every September, what have certainly changed over the last 100 years are the laws governing labor. From wage and hour rules to workplace safety regulations, employment law is constantly evolving.
To mark this year's Labor Day, here are five noteworthy changes to employment laws so far in 2014:
- Minimum wage increase for federal contract workers. During his State of the Union speech earlier this year, President Obama announced that he was going to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers. A month later, he signed an executive order to that effect, reports Reuters, raising the federal contract worker minimum wage to $10.10 an hour starting January 1st, 2015.
- State minimum wage increases. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 11 states and Washington D.C. raised the state minimum wage in 2014. These states include Hawaii, Michigan, Vermont, and Rhode Island.
- California whistleblower protections. California kicked off 2014 by rolling out changes to state employment laws protecting whistleblowers, reports The Wall Street Journal. Among the new rules are expanded prohibitions from employer retaliation against employees who report suspected illegal activity internally, including rules guarding against employers who take action against an employee in anticipation of that employee reporting illegal activity.
- Veteran discrimination protection. There were several new laws passed in 2014 prohibiting employers from discriminating against veterans of the armed services. In Indiana, HEA 1242 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against veterans of any armed services branch or current members of the Indiana National Guard.
- Added protections for pregnant women. Also added to the list of protected classes for purposes of workplace discrimination law: pregnant women. Earlier this year, New Jersey amended its state Law Against Discrimination to include pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, reports Think Progress. The federal Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission also issued new guidelines clarifying federal rules against pregnancy discrimination.
If you have a question about labor law or feel your rights have been violated, an employment lawyer can help explain your legal options. And regardless, enjoy your Labor Day!
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