30.08.2019 in Ethics

Ethics in Human Resources

This research paper discusses the principal federal and state laws governing ethical relations between millions of American employers and workers. The Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are responsible for the creation of awareness and nationwide compliance with almost 200 federal acts. Each of these laws performs a function of a profound auxiliary mechanism securing the workplace environment and providing non-discrimination, equal opportunities, justice, and safety. The evolution of the employment law reflected the historical increase of the bargaining power of the employees fueled by the Civil Rights Movement, unionization, and court actions. Generations of working people and human rights activists sacrificed their lives to gain the benefits of the contemporary labor laws. The first post-industrialization efforts delivered workplace accident compensations, minimum wage standard, working-hour limitations, and a ban on child labor. At the end of the 20th century, Congress offered solutions to outlaw all forms of discrimination and toughen workplace safety requirements. The most recent achievements encompassed the equal pay provisions, strengthening of workplace ethics, and reinforcement of financial consequences for non-compliance. The modern set of federal and state employment statutes protects the comprehensive and balanced execution of rights and duties between the employees and employers.

General Discussion


In its final reading, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became the fundamental piece of legislation preventing restricted access or differentiated treatment of any qualified individual in any professional field on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” (“Find It!”). According to this statute, the employees should design and maintain such criteria for all employment procedures that would not limit the opportunities of protected groups of citizens. The list of non-discrimination acts connected with job has been substantially expanded in the following decades. The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 secured similar accrual of remuneration for the same amount of work to men and women. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 outlawed discarding middle-aged and senior employees as a strategy to avoid pension obligations. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 established the quota for qualified workers with disabilities and held employers accountable for granting reasonable accommodations to standard workplaces. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 focused on this prescription in the domain of federal government jobs. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 is one of the most recent provisions. It outlawed consideration of the genetic data of potential or current workers as the basis for employment decision-making.

These laws bind compliance with every aspect of working relations between hiring and firing milestones. The EEOC scrutinizes the content design of job advertisements, interview structures, testing procedures, career development plans, as well as compensation and retirement systems. Employees have the right to claim a violation on account of “disparate treatment” or “adverse impact”. The former one suggests deliberate illegal treatment, while the latter one presumes the occurrence of an unintentional flaw derogating from equality. The explicit breach may appear in the form of a job advertisement limiting the interview invitation to the male cohort or establishing a demarcation of the age of the candidates. The implicit contravention occurs when the advertising contains descriptive characteristics, which do not selectively refuse employment but make it impossible to the representatives of the particular protected groups to apply for a job. States may provide affirmative action plans to employers engaged in industries that might require limited preferences on age and sex. However, this practice is extremely doubtful and may be the next in line with elimination. Every employee has a right to submit a corresponding charge to the EEOC. Once the case of discrimination is established, the claimant receives a Right-To-Sue letter and can refer their case to state arbitration. The court conforms to the Civil Rights Act of 1991 in establishing restitutions, monetary damages and other remedies correcting the effect of adverse practices.


The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 commits employers to securing safe working environments. In fact, this purpose is achieved by hiring workers with appropriate qualifications, initiating training programs, implementing comprehensible operational algorithms, updating technology, and proper handling of hazardous elements. These legal provisions prevent one from forcing people to knowingly or potentially dangerous jobs. They also regulate the management of workplace accidents causing injuries, deaths, and area contamination.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reviews the corresponding claims and establishes the adequacy of organizational safety measures. According to this framework, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs supervises disability compensation programs. Affected workers can expect to receive wage replacement remunerations, coverage of medical bills, and free professional rehabilitation, among others.

Compensation and Benefits

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 is the principal policy establishing the minimum standard of living for working people. Its current reading imposes a federal minimum wage of $7, 25 per hour (“Equal Pay Act”). Most of the American states consider this index a bottom line and use the authority to raise the limit for registered businesses. In this situation, employers are bound to comply with the state laws. Similar principles guide the calculation of overtime pay and specification of the minimum age permitting engagement in employment relations. FSLA obliges employers to keep proper records of all hired employees. In response to the worker’s claim, DOL is entitled to inspect historical entries. If the commission established the violation of law under this statute, the employer would risk facing civil and criminal prosecution. Deliberate and repeated violations may entail hundreds of thousands of dollars of mandatory compensation and business foreclosure. Notably, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 eliminated the temporal delimitation for wage discrimination claims.

Under the U.S. legislation, holidays and vacations do not belong to regulated benefits. Thus, employers and employees handled this issue via individual employment contracts. However, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 guarantees that employees may use the advantage of 12 weeks annually to seek treatment for themselves or their family members. Though workers do not receive wages during the period of their leave, they keep their official positions upon return. Hereby, this provision covers the maternity leaves, grave illnesses, as well as divorce and adoption procedures. State tax legislation obliges the employers to arrange Social Security and Medicare privileges.

Activities of Employees

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 supports all types of union-based activity, including strikes and collective court actions. The law insures equal treatment of unionized and non-unionized members in all aspects of working relations. With regard to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, it justifies drug testing and related supervision programs. Moreover, it enforces drug-addiction as the grounds for dismissal or denial of employment. Talking about the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, it insures continuous monitoring of citizen’s employment status and wellbeing via mandatory reports obtained from the employers.

State Laws

Every state conforms to the central labor requirements. As a rule, each state administration constructs own legislative framework, which expands and adapts the federal provisions to the local specifics and ethical concerns of the state residents. Several regional governments raise the ceiling for what they believe to be a fair pay and a reasonable workplace accommodation for individuals with disabilities. States address unique safety considerations and their combination with the gun-free environments. State decrees guarantee protection of employee’s privacy, personal access to information of public interest, and whistleblower initiatives.

The Code of Ethics of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Companies hire human resources (HR) officers to comply with the listed laws. It is their responsibility to know and interpret the applicable law as well as design the eligible organizational codes of conduct and policies. For the most part, the enactment of federal and state employment laws is dependent on the professional efficiency and moral stamina of these individuals. The SHRM Code sets advanced ethical standards for HR professionals (“SHRM Code of Ethics”). It encourages HR experts to become advocates of social justice and leaders of competent change. According to its principles, HR specialists should strive to move from legal compliance towards actions and decisions rooted in ethical commitment. They should assume responsibility for educating and nurturing ethical organizational environments. They should continue individual professional development to anticipate and integrate new legal mandates into organizational strategic rationale and practices. They should set a moral example by own behavior and attitude. Thus, they should use the advantage of their position to identify violations, report to the responsible authorities, and restitute fairness and justice. The most significant challenge belongs to the category of the conflict of interest. However, minor the compromise may seem to be, HR specialists should not create the conflict of interest in labor relations. They should not condone disregard or evasion of the law. On the contrary, they should use their professional knowledge to inform and guide the ethical decision-making of the employers and employees.


The modern U.S. labor legislation operates as a comprehensive and structured instrument procuring professional justice and equal employment opportunities for all American citizens. While the federal statutes impose minimum requirements on non-discrimination, safety, compensation, benefits, and protected activity, the state laws specify and adapt these provisions in line with local socio-economic and ethical realities. HR specialists are responsible for the practical implementation of these laws in the context of specific industries and organizations. Their knowledge, expertise and moral principles guide organizational decision-making in compliance with applicable regulations. Each of the existing labor laws emerged as a historical victory over exploitation and refined in line with the ethical evolution of the American nation. Each act helps to protect the rights of the employees in different fields of the industrial dialogue. Government committees address employee claims and keep employers accountable in terms of comprehensive legal compliance. Enhanced ethical requirements are critical to foster the continuous progressive development of the legal framework. These laws and ethics are essential to the well-being of the American nation as they insure just and equal distribution of industrial benefits among all citizens.

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