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8 Landmark Employment Laws for Small Business

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By Neetal Parekh on August 28, 2009 12:47 PM

At will employment affords both employer and employee considerable flexibility in starting and ending an employment relationship; however, there are limitations.  Though employers can choose to hire or not hire a candidate for many reasons and can fire at will employees for cause or no cause, employers cannot make employment decisions on grounds that are illegal.   And in order to abide by the law, you need to know what the law is. 

Listed below are 8 federal laws your small business must follow when making employment decisions.

1. Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) : Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex (gender).  It additionally prohibits gender discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and sexual harassment.  The Civil Rights Act also established the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

2. Equal Pay Act of 1963: Prohibits payment of different wages to men and women who perform jobs that require equal skills, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions from the same employer.

3. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967: Prohibits discrimination against individuals who are 40 years old or older.  It was amended by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990, which makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals age 40 or older for employment benefit programs.

4. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.  Also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees.

5. Bankruptcy Act: Prohibits discrimination of employees and job applicants because of bankruptcy or bad debts incurred before bankruptcy. 

6. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008: Prohibits employers and health insurers from discrimination against employees on the basis of genetic predisposition to illness and disease.

7. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986: Prohibits discrimination against individuals who are authorized to work in the United states on the basis of national origin or citizenship.

8. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009: Extends the statute of limitation for filing a wage discrimination charge from 180 days after the first instance of wage discrimination to 180 days after each incident.

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