Do You Comply with Federal Notice-Posting Laws?
Most federal laws have a notice-posting requirement. This means that a poster notifying employees about a particular law must be displayed conspicuously and in enough places so employees can see them as they enter and exit the workplace. These laws carry their own penalties and fines, but the consequence of not obeying the notice-posting requirements may actually be more dire than that. Sometimes an employee will simply point to the fact that the employer has neglected to display a notice in order to account for the employees not knowing of it or obeying it. Often a court will decide that the employee is absolved from liability because the notice delineating the obligation was not posted.
For example, in a recent case an employee fired for absenteeism claimed that several of his absences were FMLA-covered and should not have been counted as absences. The employer defended itself by saying that the employer had not claimed FMLA coverage until long after the fact. But, because the employer had never displayed the FMLA poster the court disallowed its defense. The jury awarded the employee over $170,000 for wrongful discharge, and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the award. This type of outcome is by no means an aberration.
Which federal laws require posting?
A consolidated EEO poster, offered by the federal government and by commercial poster vendors, compiles equal employment-nondiscrimination laws in one place. The consolidated poster includes:
TheAge Discrimination in Employment Act, a law that involves employers with 20 or more employees, prohibiting them from engaging in discrimination against employees on the basis of their age.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers employers and employment agencies engaged in interstate commerce, with 15 or more employees. The law prohibits employers from hiring and discriminating in employment on the basis of disability. It also requires a reasonable accommodation for disabled workers unless it imposes undue hardship on the employer.
The Rehabilitation Act, applying to federal government employers or employers engaged in an activity receiving federal financing or federal government contractors and subcontractors with a contract of $10,000 or more, bans discrimination against disabled people able to perform the basic function of a job. Like the ADA it requires reasonable accommodation for disabled workers.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) covers employers in interstate commerce that employ 15 or more employees and prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The Equal Pay Act, covering employers engaged in interstate commerce, requires equal pay for equal work (includes jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions) regardless of sex.
Other required posters
Executive Order 1124 covers contractors and subcontractors doing projects for the federal government or contractors under federal assisted construction . It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The Davis-Bacon Act covers subcontractors with contracts of more than $2,000 for work on a public building or work financed by federal funds, federal guarantee, or federal pledge. The law requires that employees be paid not less than the prevailing wage rate for the specific kind of work and that it be posted with the notice. It mandates that overtime is all hours over 40 and is 1.5 times the basic rate of pay. Apprentice rates may only be paid to participants in registered, approved state or federal apprenticeship programs. The address of a contact to call with a complaint or problem must also be included on the poster.
The Employee Polygraph Protection Act covers employers engaged in commerce or in production of goods for commerce. It bars lie detector tests as screening devices for job applicants and limits employers use of lie detector tests for current employees.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)/Minimum Wage Act poster covers all employers. FLSA sets minimum hourly wage, overtime pay, child labor hours, enforcement contacts and addresses, and penalties.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers employers with at least 50 employees within 75 miles, and with employees that have worked for the company for at least one year, and for 1, 250 hours in the previous 12 months. The poster outlines FMLA requirements, i.e., permitted reasons for taking leave, advance notice, job benefits and protections, violations, enforcement methods, and contact addresses. If the workforce contains a significant number of workers that are not literate in English, the FMLA poster must be in the language of those employees.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) covers employers engaged in interstate commerce. The poster, called "Job Safety and Health Protection", tells employees that they are entitled to a workplace free from recognized hazards. Also, totals of injury and illness for the previous year must be posted during the month of February.
The Walsh-Healy Act (Public Contracts Act) covers employers engaged in government contracts of $10,000 or more. It sets minimum wages and overtime requirements, health and safety rules, and fringe benefits. The poster must be posted in a sufficient number of places so that employees may observe it on their way to and from work.
The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) is for employers holding federal contracts or subcontracts or federal assisted construction contracts of $50,000 or more; financial institutions that are agents for U.S. savings bonds; depositories of federal funds or entities having government bills of lading. The Act prohibits job discrimination and requires affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified Vietnam era veterans, and qualified disabled veterans. The term "qualified," with respect to an employment position, means that the veteran has the ability to perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
After December 1, 2003, the VEVRAA coverage amount rises to $100,000 or more. Also, nearly all veterans will be VEVRAA-covered under a new, expanded definition. The new categories of covered veterans are:
- Disabled veterans.
- Veterans who served on active duty in the armed forces during a war or in
a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized.
- Veterans who, while serving on active duty in the armed forces, participated
in a U.S. military operation for which an armed forces service medal was awarded
pursuant to Executive Order 12985.
- Recently separated veterans. This category covers any veteran who was separated from service during the three-year period beginning on the date of such veterans discharge or release from active duty.
Finally, there are Workforce Investment Act (WIA)/EEO Provisions. Employers receiving financial assistance under the WIA must post an equal opportunity policy conspicuously, and must also include in written or electronic communications, internal documents, and made available to workers, applicants, and other program participants. The notice must contain the very specific wording as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations, 29 C.F.R. 37.30.