Labor StandardsThe responsibility for protecting the rights of U.S. workers is shared by the federal government and the 50 individual states. The federal government may act to regulate commerce among the states, while the states may set conditions applicable to commerce within their own borders. Many states have adopted laws setting labor standards. Among federal laws, some-of the most important include:
- The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (as amended) sets
national minimum wages, overtime pay, equal pay and standards to
protect child labor from abuses. Minimum wages are determined by
Congress and enforced by the Department of Labor. In 1991 the
minimum wage was raised to $4.25 an hour, but there was also a
lower "training wage" for teenagers just entering the work force.
- The Age and Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects
the jobs of older workers through age 70.
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 requires
employers to provide safe and healthy working conditions. The
Occupational Safety and Health Administration develops
occupational safety and health standards, develops and issues
regulations, conducts investigations and inspections to determine
the status of compliance with the standards and regulations, and
issues citations and proposes penalties for noncompliance.
- The Trade Act of 1974 (as amended) provides adjustment assistance to employees, companies and communities hurt by foreign competition. The Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance administers the program based on this act through agreements with individual states. The program provides reemployment services such as training, job search and relocation allowances, and weekly cash payments to U.S. workers who are separated from employment because of foreign imports.