Workers used to be at the mercy of their employers when it came to job-related safety and benefits, let alone promotions and hiring. However, in the 20th century, a drive for employee rights gained popularity, culminating in a slew of crucial labor protection legislation on which millions of Americans rely today.
The U.S. Department of Labor now enforces around 180 worker protection statutes, ranging from wage standards to parental leave benefits. Additional protections are overseen by organizations such as the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. To learn more, contact Hayber, McKenna, & Dinsmore.
What are labor laws?
Labor laws act as go-betweens for the government, organizations and employers, and workers and unions. They define employees’ rights and obligations in various work environments and can dictate everything from workplace safety and health to workers’ compensation.
For example, employees who get hurt on the job are compensated under workers’ compensation. They can pay healthcare providers directly or compensate the employee in cash. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, and the Black Lung Benefits Act are all examples of workers’ compensation laws.
U.S. labor laws
Norris-LaGuardia Act (1932)
The Norris-LaGuardia Act was enacted at a period when employees had virtually no right to organize. Courts often granted injunctions against labor strikes and picketing. These injunctions might be imposed solely based on the employer’s evidence. Uncooperative workers were punished and imprisoned without a trial or due process.
The Act guaranteed employees’ right to strike. It expressly prohibited judges from infringing on a worker’s right to strike, organize through a union, help someone involved in a labor dispute, peacefully picket, and peacefully assemble. The rationale for the Act was that “the individual unorganized worker is commonly helpless to exercise actual liberty” in the current capitalist system.
National Labor Relations Act (1935)
This labor legislation passed in 1935, influences the parameters of labor relations in the private sector more than any other. Employees have various rights under the NLRA, including the right to self-organize, create or join labor organizations, negotiate collectively, and engage in collective bargaining, mutual assistance, or protection activities.
The NLRA also puts limitations on how employers may treat these rights. It forbids company-led unions and defines discrimination against workers engaged in collective bargaining as an unfair labor practice. If a worker’s rights are infringed, the worker has six months to file a case with a regional National Labor Relations Board office, and an experienced attorney could provide much help.