United States labor law
United States labor law sets the rights and duties for employees, labor unions, and employers in the United States. Labor law's basic aim is to remedy the "inequality of bargaining power" between employees and employers, especially employers "organized in the corporate or other forms of ownership association". Over the 20th century, federal law created minimum social and economic rights, and encouraged state laws to go beyond the minimum to favor employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 requires a federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 but higher in 29 states and D.C., and discourages working weeks over 40 hours through time-and-a-half overtime pay. There is no federal law requiring paid holidays or paid family leave, and limited state laws. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 creates a limited right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in larger employers. There is no automatic right to an occupational pension beyond federally guaranteed social security, but the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 requires standards of prudent management and good governance if employers agree to provide pensions, health plans or other benefits. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employees have a safe system of work.
A contract of employment can always create better terms than statutory minimum rights. But to increase their bargaining power to get better terms, employees organize labor unions for collective bargaining. The Clayton Act of 1914 guarantees all people the right to organize, and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 creates rights for most employees to organize without detriment through unfair labor practices. Under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, labor union governance follows democratic principles. If a majority of employees in a workplace support a union, employing entities have a duty to bargain in good faith. Unions can take collective action to defend their interests, including withdrawing their labor on strike. There are not yet general rights to directly participate in enterprise governance, but many employees and unions have experimented with securing influence through pension funds, and representation on corporate boards.
Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, all employing entities and labor unions have a duty to treat employees equally, without discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." There are separate rules for sex discrimination in pay under the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Additional groups with "protected status" were added by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. There is no federal law banning all sexual orientation or identity discrimination, but 22 states had passed laws by 2016. These equality laws generally prevent discrimination in hiring, terms of employment, and make discharge because of a protected characteristic unlawful. There is no federal law against unjust discharge, and most states also have no law with full protection against wrongful termination of employment. Collective agreements made by labor unions and some individual contracts require people are only discharged for a "just cause". The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 requires employing entities give 60 days notice if more than 50 or one third of the workforce may lose their jobs. Federal law has aimed to reach full employment through monetary policy and spending on infrastructure. Trade policy has attempted to put labor rights in international agreements, to ensure open markets in a global economy do not undermine fair and full employment.