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Herzing University

Jack McCallum

What to Know About Workplace Rights as You Start Your Career

Make sure you’re familiar with employment laws that protect you against discrimination and unfair pay, among other things.

Congratulations! You have your degree, so now it is time to launch into the career of your dreams. This means starting your job hunting work, which includes updating your resume and identifying the positions that best fit your skills and interests. Another step is to make sure you’re familiar with employment laws that protect you against discrimination and unfair pay, among other things.

Here is a look at the most relevant laws:

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): 

The FLSA focuses on minimum wage, overtime pay and a variety of other areas. The federal government recently proposed new rules on overtime pay that have been put on hold by a judge. If the rules are imposed, they would allow more people to qualify for overtime pay.

Discrimination-based laws:  

You might be in charge of employment-based decisions in your new job, which means you should know about laws on both state and federal levels that prohibit discrimination in employment-based decisions. While the laws are different on a state-to-state level, the federal laws include:

• Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA): protecting individuals who are 40 years of age or older

• Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII): prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (which also includes sexual harassment), or national origin

• Civil Rights Act of 1991: provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.

• Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA): protecting men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination

• Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA): prohibiting employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments

• Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: prohibiting discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government

These laws also protect job applicants based on what happens during the employment recruiting, selection, and placement process.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA): 

This law prohibits job discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and medical conditions related to pregnancy. You can't deny a job or promotion merely because an employee is pregnant or had an abortion, nor can a woman be dismissed or forced to leave her job because of her medical condition. That said, employers are well within their rights to move a pregnant woman to a different, though equitable, job-based on unique circumstances.  For example, if a pregnant woman’s existing position exposes her to chemicals that have been known to cause miscarriage, the employer can move her to a different job that is equal in pay, work hours, etc.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA): 

The IRCA makes it illegal to hire and employ illegal aliens. This is why employers ask newly hired employees to complete an I-9 form to verify employment eligibility.

It is an exciting opportunity to step into a new career after working so hard to obtain your degree. Learning about the legal requirements of employment – both during the application process and on the job – will make you more prepared to take on the challenges in your new career.


Jack McCallum has been with the online business department at Herzing University since 2011. When not teaching, she serves as the President/Principal Consultant for HR Balance LLC — a consulting company specializing in human resources management, organizational development, leadership coaching, and training/development. She started HR Balance LLC in 2003 after years of serving in a leadership capacity for a variety of for-profit and non-profit organizations. A keynote speaker and presenter, Jack has served as an industry expert for radio and print media.


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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