Employment Termination Statutes and Regulations

At least 24 federal statutes directly or indirectly relate to the involuntary discharge of employees:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both the ADA and the ADA Amendments Act outlaw termination and other adverse job actions based on an employee’s disability. See www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability.cfm
  2. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The economic stimulus law of 2009 provides up to $2,400 in tax-free unemployment benefits to employees, and increases take-home pay for many employees. It also provides for COBRA premium reductions for terminated employees. See www.recovery.gov/Pages/home.aspx.
  3. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Prohibits an employer from firing an employee who is 40 or older based on age. See www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/age.cfm.
  4. U.S. Bankruptcy Code. A non-discrimination provision bars employers from firing anybody who files for bankruptcy or who hasn’t paid a debt that can be erased in bankruptcy.  See www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/11/525.html
  5. Civil Rights Act of 1866. Under Section 1981, racial minorities are protected against discriminatory action by employers. See www.teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=480.
  6. Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under Title VII, employers may not discharge employees based on their sex, race, color, national origin, or religion. See www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm.
  7. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Requires employers to offer health insurance continuation coverage. See www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm
  8. Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Prohibits discrimination in employee retirement plans. See www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/erisa.htm.
  9. Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA). Limits the use of lie detector tests and sets strict restrictions on terminating employees who fail polygraph examinations. See www.dol.gov/whd/polygraph/.
  10. Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This act, which was still a proposed bill in the Spring of 2010, was headed for passage in Congress.  It prohibits discharge and other employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. See www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-3685&tab=summary.
  11. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Requires employers to pay outstanding wages on a timely basis. See www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/index.htm.
  12. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law and its state counterparts bar employers from firing employees because they qualify for, or take, medical leaves of absence or other covered family leaves. See www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm.
  13. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Prohibits an employer from firing an employee based on his or her genetic information. See www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm.
  14. Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Prevents discrimination against foreign nationals based on citizenship statute or national origin. See www.oig.lsc.gov/legis/irca86.htm.
  15. Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). Prohibits an employer from firing an employee for union-related activity. See www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/29/usc_sup_01_29_10_7.html.
  16. National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Prohibits unfair labor practices, including firing employees who file charges or give testimony. See www.nlrb.gov/about_us/overview/national_labor_relations_act.aspx.
  17. Notification and Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act (NO FEAR). Federal agencies are required under this law to notify all federal employees about their rights under federal law concerning discrimination and whistleblowing, and must be accountable for all reported violations of antidiscrimination and whistleblower protections laws. See www.doi.gov/diversity/no_fear_act.html.
  18. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). Authorizes employees to refuse to work in a dangerous workplace that the employer refuses to correct. See www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owasrch.search_form?p_doc_type=OSHACT.
  19. Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA). Safeguards older workers’ retirement benefits from discriminatory practices based on age. See www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/thelaw/owbpa.html.
  20. Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Prevents an employer from firing an employee based on her pregnancy or related conditions, or because of childbirth. See www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm.
  21. Rehabilitation Act. Sections 501, 503 and 504of this act prohibit disability discrimination federal agencies in the executive branch, by government contractors, and by all federally funded programs and activities. See www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/rehab.cfm.
  22. Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). Protects whistleblowers from being fired for disclosing accounting or auditing discrepancies.  See www.sox-online.com/act_section_806.html.
  23. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Protects members of the armed services by setting standards for their reinstatement to employment and limitations on their discharge from employment. See www.osc.gov/userra.htm.
  24. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN). Provides the procedure for notifying employees subject to a mass layoff or plant closing. See webapps.dol.gov/elaws/warn.htm.

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