Analysis of Recent Legislation to Protect Employees from Discrimination in the Workplace
The rights and freedoms of employees at their place of work is a broad and essential issue within the framework of current US legislation. Due to the multicultural and diverse characteristics of the US society, different population groups are entitled to be recognized as per their distinctive values. In the United States, there are many laws that regulate the manifestation of any type of discrimination against workers. To exemplify such legislation, one might discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This legislation protects people with either physical or mental impairments from discrimination in the workplace.
According to its provisions, in the places of employment with fifteen and more workers, an employer cannot discriminate against disabled people in terms of hiring, payment, or promotion (Jennings, 1). Under the ADA, an employer must provide necessary accommodation to facilitate disabled individuals’ professional performance and common functioning. Overall, people with impairments related to hearing, mobility, vision, speaking, or self-care are protected and provided with safe and respectful treatment at work.
Another example of protection legislation is the Equal Pay Act, which has recently passed several amendments. This legislation is aimed at protecting employees from discrimination in wages based on gender unless other non-gender issues are in force (Jennings, 1). It provides solid legal grounds for the provision of equal employment rights for men and women, thus protecting them from discriminating actions from the employers’ side.
However, not all federal laws fully align with the state legislature. Often, states enact legal documents that contradict federal ones. For example, the issue of workplace safety under the rule of Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not require employers’ disclosure concerning hazardous substances at the place of employment. However, some states have the so-called “right to know” that requires employers to inform their workers about such issues (Jennings, 1, p. 690). On a general scale, federal laws supersede state laws. In the case of labor legislation, the advantage is on the side of the law that provides the highest level of protection for employees, in which case a state law might preempt a federal one.
One of the legal documents that regulate employer-employee interaction is the Employment-at-Will (EAW) Doctrine. This regulation implies that an employer can terminate an employee according to his or her will with or without a cause for such doing. It comes in force under the condition when no other law is applicable that protects the right of an employee to preserve his or her place of work. Also, EAQ works when no contracts or legal agreements, regulate the cooperation between a worker and an employer.
There are three main exceptions to the EAW doctrine, according to which the employer, although seemingly entitled to use the benefits of EAW cannot fire an employee due to imposed injustice (Muhl, 2). Firstly, the public policy exception forbids an employer to terminate a worker if “the termination is against an explicit, well-established public policy of the State” (Muhl, 2, p. 4). Secondly, implied contract exception means that even without a written contract, the agreement between an employer and employee in the form of instruction, promises, or written guidelines concerning responsibilities and security is regarded as a contract (Muhl, 2).
Thirdly, the covenant of good faith exception implies that the cooperation between a worker and an employer is based on trust and honesty. The termination is impossible if the employer grounds its decision on bad faith or malice (Muhl, 2). Therefore, EAW provides freedom of actions for an employer unless such actions are illegal under the rule of the above-mentioned exceptions.
When analyzing the scenarios, the considerations of EAW are applicable. In the first case, Robert’s religious actions contradict the interests of the company. If terminated under the EAW, Robert might sue for wrongful termination and prevail on the basis of referring to the first exception, namely the public policy. Since the secretary would be fired on a religious basis, such termination should be considered discrimination on religious terms, which is forbidden by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
In the second scenario, Seth might sue for wrongful termination and prevail on the basis of Lori’s unlawful terms for firing him. Since Lori fired Seth for one-time lateness, the real cause of termination is Seth’s dissatisfaction with payment and his wish to organize a union within the company. It entitles Seth to refer to the first exception to EAW, claiming that workers have the right to form unions under the National Labor Relations Act.
The third scenario presents a case of discrimination of a parent when claiming his right to obtain a parental leave. Brian has a newborn son and is entitled to have a twelve-week leave to take care of his child. In this case, Brian might sue Lori for wrongful actions on the basis of the first exception to EAW. Finally, according to the fourth scenario, a severe liver disease might be regarded as a disability. Jackson’s termination might be claimed to be wrongful on the basis of protection under ADA. However, to prove the violation of ADA and refer to the first exception to EAW, Jackson will need to provide medical proof of his disability.
State Law Regarding Undocumented Workers
The issue of immigration and employment of undocumented individuals on the territory of the USA is addressed in legal documents across all states. The state of Maryland is generally characterized by welcoming legislation for immigrants. Overall, like the USA in general, the state’s economy depends on immigrants’ labor. Historically, immigrants have always comprised the diverse society of the USA.
The labor market has been significantly influenced by the inflow of foreign-born workers who have occupied seasonal or poorly-paid jobs. With the emergence of terroristic threats, the federal laws regulating migration to the USA became stricter. However, the importance of the immigrants’ workforce has not decreased. As Sangaramoorthy states, low-wage and seasonal jobs in Maryland, one of which is the seafood industry, rely on immigrants, who are mostly of Mexican origin (3). Since the state allows for undocumented immigrants’ employment by the local employers who are obliged to treat the workers under the rule of protection laws.
Therefore, the undocumented workers who establish cooperation agreements with their employer are subject to the provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act. Consequently, undocumented workers are eligible for state worker’s compensation in the USA. Despite the fact that state regulations do not go in accord with federal ones, the contribution of the immigrant workforce to the state of Maryland is substantial. This practice is reasonable due to the extensive employment of immigrants in the local industries and the overall reliance of the state on the immigrant workforce.
- Marianne Jennings. 2018. Business: It’s Legal, Ethical and Global Environment (11th edition). p. 634-764. Web.
- Charles J. Muhl. 2001. The Employment-at-Will Doctrine: Three Major Exceptions. p. 3-11. Web.
- Thurka Sangaramoorthy. 2019. Liminal Living: Everyday Injury, Disability, and Instability among Migrant Mexican Women in Maryland’s Seafood Industry. p. 1-22. Web.