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EMPLOYMENT LAW GUIDE: - page 10 / 134

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employers and employees with an ability to identify and address employment issues before

they develop into legal problems.

1.

STATUTORY RIGHTS

Most employers, depending on their size, are regulated by federal and state statutes.

While there are many statutes governing employment, this section provides an overview of

the most common statutory rights and obligations, including those that impose obligations

relating to non-discrimination, payment of wages, including overtime pay, leave, and various

benefits.

1.1

Non-discrimination: General Rules

Ordinarily employers enjoy very broad discretion in making employment decisions.

However, this discretion is limited by state and federal statutes that prohibit employers from

discriminating against their employees and applicants on the basis of certain protected

characteristics. Specifically, employers cannot make employment decisions on the basis of

race, color, national origin and ancestry; age; sex (including pregnancy); sexual orientation;

religion; disability; military status; or genetic information. The general rule, therefore, is

that employers must treat similarly situated employees the same way. As a result,

consistency in treatment of employees is critical.

Two types of discrimination are recognized by the non-discrimination laws: disparate

treatment” and “disparate impact.” Disparate treatment occurs when an employer

intentionally (whether consciously or subconsciously) treats an employee differently on the

basis of illegal considerations. For example, disparate treatment discrimination exists if an

employer rejects female applicants on the basis of a stereotype that “women don’t make good

2

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