I recently came across the national Web site devoted to explaining Right-to-Work policies for each participating state. On the site, I learned that there are over 20 such states in the Union. Each state follows standard Federal guidelines for their policies, but have specific state-driven regulations.
For South Carolina, the policies are similar to other states in that it is publicly declared that as of March 19, 1954, the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in any labor union or labor organization. In other words, if an individual wants to work in a particular job or field, then he cannot be denied a job based on the grounds that he is not a member or a union or labor organization.
If a labor organization/union and an employer make any sort of arrangements or agreement to only employ people if they are members of the union, then it is unlawful. As such, a labor union cannot approach a company in an effort to strike a member-employment deal. An employer, likewise, cannot approach a union in an effort to strike a deal. Under this type of environment, it is admissible for any person and any employer to strike a mutually agreeable deal when it comes to employment and hiring practices – outside of any union restrictions.
It is also unlawful for an employer to require en employee to be a member of a labor organization in order to be employed. An employer cannot tell an employee that he or she cannot join a union. An employer also may not require an employee to pay membership fees, dues or assessment fees to an organization as a tenant of their employment.
The reason that so many states have enacted the Right to Work law is so that employees will have the freedom to join any organization they please and so that employers may select their employees from a large pool of applicants – not just applicants from a particular organization or union.
I’m particularly interested in unemployment law, basically, how much a government will protect its citizens in the event that they should undergo a change in occupation. Recently I came across some information pertaining to unemployment law in Ohio. Ohio residents, as do residents of any state, must meet a certain set of criteria in order to collect unemployment insurance. Among those criteria are the following:
1. The worker has to have first been employed. Not only do they have to be employed, but there are particular circumstances under which the worker has had to be employed. For example, the worker has to have earned hours and time through what’s called a “base period” to ensure that he or she truly did make an effort to find employment.
2. The worker has to establish that the cause for unemployment was through no fault of his or her own as the law defines “fault.”
3. The worker must continually file claims and respond to state requests for updates. The worker must also report any amount of earnings and must also report any job offers or job offers that were then turned down.
4. There are other requirements that could be listed under the Ohio law that must also be met.
Of course, the particulars of unemployment law vary from state to state in terms of how much compensation a worker will get and how many jobs they need to apply to in each week. For some laws, they need to apply to at least two jobs a week while for others, they need to apply to more.
Unemployed workers need to have a very solid reason for denying any work that they are offered as well. The amount of money that the unemployed person can collect varies entirely by the cost of living of each state, therefore, in higher cost states, the unemployment amount will be greater than in lower cost states, such as Ohio.
The Ohio State Only Labor Law poster reflects all of the most current labor laws pertaining to unemployment insurance. The Ohio Complete Labor Law poster not only provides the most up to date Ohio labor laws but it also includes the federal labor laws as well.
Employers with 50 or more employees are required to comply with the New Jersey Family Medical Leave Act. This act guarantees up to twelve weeks of leave in a 24-month period for workers that have been employed at their company for at least 12 months. The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours in that 12-month period.
I learned that employees can take time off for the birth or adoption of a child, within one year of the birth or placement. The employee may also take time off for the serious illness of a parent, child or spouse which requires in-patient care, continuing medical treatment or medical supervision. Provisions for reduced work schedules can also be arranged and covered under this act if necessary.
Employees are guaranteed their same position when they return to work. In some cases, as in layoffs or department closings, the original position is no longer available. The employer must then offer a position with equivalent pay, benefits and status.
What are the downsides of taking Family Medical Leave in New Jersey? First of all, the leave is unpaid, and an employee may be asked to use sick time to cover some of the benefit. Secondly, the leave doesn’t cover an employee’s own disabilities. The employee needs to apply for separate disability coverage. And the New Jersey law also limits the time taken to 12 weeks in 24 months, half that of the federal law, which gives 12 weeks in 12 months.
If an employee feels that they have been discriminated against, by being denied their leave or being penalized for taking leave, they may petition the NJ Division on Civil Rights for an investigation. However, the complaint must be made within 180 days of the infraction. A civil law suit can also be filed against the employer, but papers must be submitted to the New Jersey courts within two years of the infraction.
In my opinion posting the New Jersey Compete Labor Law poster is not only mandatory but is also a convenient way of informing employees of their rights under the state and federal laws.
Indiana’s Minimum Wage Law defines the pay and overtime that workers can receive. This law fills in the gap left by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and applies to employers with 2 or more employees.
The current minimum wage for 2006 is $5.15 per hour. However, some workers are exempt from this minimum wage amount:
- Employees under 20 years of age may be paid $4.25 per hour during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer as a training wage.
- Employers of “tipped employees” must pay a cash wage of at least $2.13 per hour if they claim a tip credit against their minimum wage obligation. If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cash wage of at least $2.13 per hour do not equal the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference. Certain other conditions must also be met.
- Certain employees may be paid less than minimum wage as provided by Indiana Code and they include minors under 16, workers doing administrative duties, or paid on commission, religious leaders, student nurses and interns, physically challenged workers, and employees engaged in agricultural work.
Under Indiana law, employers must pay at least 1½ times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a work week. Tipped employees must receive at least $7.73 an hour for all hours worked over 40 in a work week.
Fines of up to $1,000 per violation can be brought against employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the minimum wage or overtime pay provisions. This law prohibits discriminating against or discharging workers who file a complaint or participate in any proceedings under the Act.
Employers must place a poster explaining the Minimum Wage Law in a public part of their business. The Indiana Complete Labor Law poster is available reflecting the most current minimum wage laws as well as all state and federal labor laws.
Under the Kenucky Wage Discrimination Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their sex when it comes to paying wages. This law applies to employers with two or more employees, and includes employees of the state, as well as private workplace employees. Wage discrimination includes both wages and benefits.
I have read that an employer is prohibited from discriminating between employees of opposite sexes in the same workplace by paying different wage rates for comparable work on jobs which have comparable requirements. This prohibition covers any employee in any occupation in Kentucky. In order to comply with fair wage laws, the employer cannot reduce the wages of any employee.
No employer can discharge or discriminate against any employee because the employee initiates a complaint or assists in the enforcement of the law. An employee has six months to report any wage violations.
My research shows that there are some exceptions to the law. They include:
- A differential paid through an established seniority system or merit increase system if it does not discriminate on the basis of sex.
- Employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 are excluded “when that act imposes comparable or greater requirements than contained” than this law. However, to be excluded, the employer must file a statement that he is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
Any employer who violates this Act is liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of the unpaid wages. If the employer violates this Act willfully, he is liable for an additional damages. The court may order other appropriate action, including reinstatement of employees discharged in violation of this Act. An agreement between an employer and employee to work for less than the wage to which such employee is entitled is not a guarantee against any legal action or voluntary wage restitution.
I understand that all employers subject to the Louisiana Equal Wage Act must place a poster outlining the provisions of the law in the workplace.