By: Dan Cohen – 7/25/16
In the past few months, I have had conversations with several clients about their obligations under the panoply of federal laws with which they must comply. I don’t know why it surprised me to know that my most sophisticated clients are not entirely clear on which federal laws apply to them. Given the rash of new federal regulations and constant changes in the law, business owners and human resource professionals practically have to be Philadelphia attorneys to have any hope of staying on top of their obligations. So, what are the thresholds in the private sector for major federal employment laws?
EPA—1 employee: The Equal Pay Act requires employers to pay equal wages to men and women in most conditions.
FLSA—1 employee: The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor standards for employers with a sales volume of $500,000 or that operate in interstate commerce .
ADA—15 employees: The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers with 15 or more workers from discriminating against employees or applicants because of disability, a record of a disability or a perceived disability.
Title VII—15 employees: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
PDA—15 employees: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or any other related medical issues.
GINA—15 employees: Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act protects individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of genetic information.
ADEA—20 employees: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits companies with 20 or more workers from discriminating against people age 40 or older in hiring, firing, wages and benefits.
COBRA—20 employees: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act mandates continuing coverage when an employer with 20 or more workers offers health coverage.
FMLA—50 employees: The Family and Medical Leave Act grants up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to certain workers in companies with 50 or more employees who work within a 75-mile radius of the work site.
ACA—50 or more full-time employees or equivalents: The Affordable Care Act requires large employers to offer full-time employees affordable qualifying health care benefits to avoid the possibility of penalties.
WARN—100 employees: The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies to give at least 60 day notice of closings and mass layoffs.
Many of these laws require that a covered employer have the requisite number of employees “for each working day during 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.” (See e.g., ADA, ADEA, FMLA, Title VII)
If you are below the coverage thresholds of the above federal laws, you are not necessarily without obligations concerning the subject matter of these laws. Most states have parallel legislation. For example, in Michigan, employers of all sizes are covered by the Elliott Larson Civil Rights Act, which protects employees from employment discrimination. The ELCRA protects each of the classifications protected under Title VII, but also prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of height, weight, age, familial status and marital status. The Michigan Persons with Disabilities Act also applies to employers regardless of size and protects against disability discrimination. The Michigan Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits Act and the Michigan Whistleblower’s Protection Act also apply to employers of all sizes. Coverage under the Michigan Minimum Wage Act requires at least two employees.
One final note: Make sure you know the thresholds for coverage under the various state laws where you conduct business.