HR 101: Which Laws Apply to My Company?
Topic: Personnel/ HR Management
Type: Guidance

There are many federal laws that apply to employers, but they don't apply to all employers all of the time. Often, it depends on the number of people in a company. The chart below lists the major employment laws and the employee threshold for each. To the right are links to sections in the Library that explain the laws in greater detail.

Don't forget that state laws may be more stringent than their federal counterparts.

If you have at least this many employees...

...this law applies to you

What the law does

For more information


Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

Forbids the discrimination on the basis of age 40 and over.

Age Discrimination


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Forbids discrimination against the disabled.

Disabilities (ADA), Civil Rights, Recordkeeping


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

Civil Rights



Consolidated Omnibus Benefits Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

Requires that employees who lose coverage under group health plans be given a continuation option.

Healthcare Insurance


Drug-Free Workplace Act

Requires employers make an ongoing effort to maintain a drug-free workplace.

Alcohol & Drugs


Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

Prohibits intentional interceptions of wire, oral, or electronic communications.

Electronic Monitoring


Employee Polygraph Protection Act

Forbids most employers to use lie detectors. Poster required.

Lie Detector Tests


Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

Regulates benefits through a complex series of rules covering pensions, profit-sharing, stock bonus, and most insurance and other benefit plans.



Employee Right to Know Laws (Hazardous Chemicals in Workplace)

A disclosure rule that requires private sector employers with hazardous substances in their workplace to develop a comprehensive hazard communication program to train and inform their employees.

Right to Know/Hazard Communication


Equal Pay Act (EPA)

Forbids discrimination in pay on the basis of gender. Poster required.

Equal Pay


Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Regulates the payment of minimum wages and overtime. Poster required.



Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Mandates up to 12 weeks' leave in any 12-month period for certain circumstances.

Leave of Absence (FMLA)


Federal Income Tax Withholding

Employers are required to make deductions from employees' pay, for Social Security.

Withholding and Social Security/Medicare


Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Limits the duration of preexisting condition exclusion in group health plans and gives new enrollees credit for prior coverage.

Healthcare Insurance


Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

Employers must verify that workers are legally entitled to work in the United States.

Aliens / Immigration and National Origin Discrimination


Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

Employers must furnish a workplace that is free from recognized hazards. Poster required.



Affirmative Action

Requires the development of Affirmative Action Plans for employers with $50,000 or more in federal contracts.

Affirmative Action


Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

Forbids discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Maternity & Pregnancy


Veterans Employment Opportunities Act

Requires that federal government contractors and subcontractors make special efforts to employ and promote specific types of veterans.

Affirmative Action and Job Postings


National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

Employees have the right to organize and bargain collectively for wages, hours, and working conditions.



Military Leave -Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994

Prohibits discrimination against those who serve in the military; mandates military leave of absence.

Military Service (USERRA)



Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)

Employers must notify employees of certain layoffs, shutdowns, and plant closings.

Layoffs & Shutdowns

Compiled by Corey Saunders


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