Workplace Laws


    Federal Workplace Legislation:

    Constitution: The Fifth Amendment guarantees US citizens the right to life, liberty and property. The Supreme Court has ruled that your job is part of your property. Your job then cannot be denied you without due process.

    At-Will Employment: The employee may quit at any time and the employer may terminate the employee at any time UNLESS a contract between an employer and employee states otherwise. Read before you sign your first employment papers and know what you are signing.

    Equal Pay Act, 1963: Equal pay for equal work, regardless of your sex.

    Civil Rights Act, 1964: You cannot be discriminated against based on your race, creed, color, sex, or national origin. These are known as protected classes.

    Executive Order 11246, 1965: Mandated affirmative action and federal contract compliance programs.

    Age Discrimination Act, 1967: People over 40 or over cannot be discriminated against in employment decisions.

    Equal Employment Opportunity Act, 1972: Created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, with whom employees can file discrimination claims. EEOC also oversees OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration.

    Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 1978: Women who are pregnant cannot be discriminated against in employment decisions.

    American with Disabilities Act, 1990: Prohibits discrimination in employment practices against persons with physical or mental disabilities, or the chronically ill. Employers must make reasonable accommodation for the needs of their disabled employees. Courts then argue over the term "reasonable."

    Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

    • Submission to such conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of employment.
    • Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions.
    • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. (This includes the school environment. Students at school have been accused and held responsible in sexual harassment suits.) This part is the one that is most used by litigants seeking reparations.
    • To be harassed: You must tell your harasser to stop. If it continues after you have asked for it to stop, you have a good lawsuit.


    North Carolina Workplace Legislation

    Minimum Wage: Every employer must pay the federal minimum wage, $6.15 an hour. Restaurant workers may be paid $2.43 per hour as long as their tips bring them up to minimum wage.

    Overtime: Every employer shall pay each employee who receives a wage (not salaried employees) and who works more than 40 hours in a work week, a rate of not less than time and one half for those hours in excess of 40.

    Youth Employment

    • Work permit: No youth under the age of 18 shall be employed by any employer in any occupation without a youth employment certificate.
    • No youth under 18 can be employed between the hours of 11pm and 5am when there is school the next day.
    • No youth 14 or 15 years of age: can work more than 3 hours per day when school is in session and no more than 8 hours per day when school is not in session; only between 7am to 7pm, only 18 hours per week when school is in session.
    • No youth under 16 may be employed on the premises of a business with an ABC permit.
    • No youth under 18 is allowed to prepare, serve, dispense, or sell alcoholic beverages.
    Withholding of Wages:
    • An employer may withhold wages when required or empowered to do so by the state, or the employee has signed a written authorization indicating the reason for the deduction
    • Your employer cannot withhold wages because your cash drawer is short, unless you have given permission to do so. Again, carefully read your initial employment papers.


    Workplace Decorum:

    • Work ethic
      Be on time.
      Be prepared.
      Be responsible.
      Show initiative: do more than is expected of you.
    • Oral communications skills
      You can talk with customers and other employees effectively.
    • Team work skills
      You can work well with others.
    • Problem solving ability
      You don't have to ask your employer how to do everything! You use your problem solving ability to make decisions.
    • Honesty
      You tell the truth. You don't steal. (Hooking your buddies up is stealing!)
    • Appropriate dress
      You wear the uniform or apparel that your employer expects you to wear.