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About Employment Law
When you decide to start a business, you focus on funding, products, operations, and other immediate start-up concerns. Unless you have prior entrepreneurial experience, you might be surprised to learn about the complex network of employment laws that also require your time and attention. Your failure to comply with employee-related legal standards can lead to enforcement actions, penalties, fines, and unwanted attention from governmental agencies.
Employment attorneys have the expertise to help your business avoid employee-related legal complications. They assist you in establishing and maintaining compliance with state, local and federal laws that regulate workplace policies and environments. When a compliance issue arises, employment lawyers provide the legal representation you need. They work to minimize the potential for adverse consequences that could affect your business.
The Internal Revenue Service
The IRS controls business tax issues and many are employee related. The agency requires businesses to document employee withholding and dependent data. They also have access to the workforce data that substantiates your claimed business expenses. The information you provide or fail to provide can present problems for several employee-related issues.
- Employee Withholding: Employers are responsible for maintaining employee wage and salary records and paying the appropriate federal income tax withholding for each employee.
- Employee Classification: Misclassification is a common IRS compliance issue. It occurs when businesses treat workers as though they were employees but classify and pay them as though they were independent contractors. Whether or not it's intentional, it reduces an employer's tax and social security withholding responsibilities. If the IRS detects a misclassification issue, they request payment of all unpaid withholding amounts and may assess a penalty.
- Affordable Care Act: As the ACA is still in effect, businesses must file employee health insurance compliance documentation with their federal taxes each year.
The US Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act
The DOL administers and enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA is a compilation of federal standards that define employment terms and govern employer/employee relationships. Compliance failures sometimes lead to back payments and penalties.
During the 2019 fiscal year, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division recovered $322 million from companies that failed to comply with wage and overtime guidelines. Over the past five years, the agency recovered more than $1.4 billion in wages for underpaid workers across the country. The DOL enforces violations related to a number of FLSA employment issues.
- Child Labor
- Tipped Employees
- Minimum Wages and Youth Minimum Wages
- Nursing Mothers
- Industrial Home Workers
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- Agricultural vs Non-Farm Employees
- Federal Record-Keeping Standards
The National Labor Relations Board
The NLRB investigates allegations that an employer retaliated against an employee for asserting their workplace rights. They pursue cases involving several rights violation categories.
- Employee Rights: Guarantees employees' right to organize or choose not to organize
- Employer/Union Rights Obligations: Forbids employers from interfering with union activities
- Social Media: Protects employees' right to address work concerns in workplace conversations and on social media
- National Labor Relations Act Right to Strike: Protects employees' striking rights, their right to collective bargaining, and their right to "mutual aid and protection"
Occupational Health and Safety
OSHA investigates workplace safety violations based on guidelines established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The agency conducts accident site investigations to determine compliance with OSHA safety standards. They assess penalties when a serious injury or death occurs because of an employer's failure to comply.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The EEOC enforces federal laws that ban discriminatory practices against job applicants and employees. Designated classes include race, color, religion, sex or gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, and disability. The agency also investigates cases where employees allege retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint.
Contact an Employment Attorney
Federal employment laws and guidelines cover a wide spectrum of issues. For many business owners, they are often complex and difficult to interpret. Employment attorneys provide valuable assistance by identifying relevant employment issues and providing guidance, advice, and assistance with compliance problems.