Sample Critical Thinking Paper on Fair Labor Standards Act

Labor Laws

Fair Labor Standards Act

Most organizations carry out complex processes whereby they might require highly qualified employees, or they would need to train hired employees to fit into assigned roles. The Fair Labor Standards Act is very important because it ensures that employees are not overworked or taken advantage of in any way at the workplace. The United States of America has a Fair Labor Standards Act that has guidelines on specific areas that should be adhered to at the workplace. Such areas include record keeping, minimum wage, child labor, overtime and hours worked (Whittaker, 2003).

Minimum Wage

The issue of the minimum wage has always been contentious. When legislators were coming up with the Act, they were in a dilemma on whether to establish a fixed amount or fixed rate depending on the cost of living. The FLSA was adjusted to ensure that minimum wage is reflected annually depending on the cost of living. In July 2009, the US federal government fixed the minimum wage to be $ 7.25 per hour. Some particular states have specific minimum wage rates.


In 2009, the overtime rate in the US was fixed to a minimum of one and a half the number of times the minimum wage. Normal working hours per day are expected to be eight. Therefore, overtime is calculated after forty hours in a week have been accumulated. The number of overtime hours can be calculated before 40 hours have been accumulated, but they cannot be less than forty hours. The FLSA has no guidelines on special days like weekends and holidays. Such guidelines are set by specific organizations. While some organizations work on holidays, others do not require their employees to work. Some unions have specific guidelines on overtime hours and the rates that their members should be paid. The human resources department of an organization should go through union specifications in which their employees are members. Failure to abide by employee-related rights can expose an organization to expensive lawsuits. Such cases would also put the organization in a bad light and increase the likelihood of high employee turnover.

Keeping Records

Employers are required by FLSA guidelines to display the legal rights of employees where they can be easily seen. Such displays are meant to ensure that employers do not take advantage of their employees in terms of hours worked and compensation in terms of money. Employers are also expected to keep accurate records about their employees, such as the time when an employee was hired and signed contracts indicating benefits that employees are entitled to.

Child Labor

The Federal government dictates that employers should not employ minors in their organizations. Minors are supposed to be in school and finish their studies. They might also not be in a position to negotiate for the best possible opportunities that would favor them. Some third-world countries experience cases of abusing children’s rights by exposing minors to poor working conditions and giving them low wages. Under federal laws, employers found to be employing minors are liable for a jail term of not less than five years.

Distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable employment practices related to drug and genetic testing and other privacy concerns

Drug and genetic testing are conducted in some organizations in the country; both government and private sector institutions. Employers use honesty, productivity, and safety as the grounds for carrying out the tests on their employees. The employment practices are considered legal especially in organizations where sobriety and health are important in order to carry out work functions. In organizations where such tests are carried out, they are done to ensure honesty and promote health. Some employers put a car tracker on company cars, which are then monitored. Such monitoring is especially common among sales representatives that cover specific regions in an area. However, employers should ask for the consent of the employees before conducting the checks (Hazards, 2014).

Most employees consider drug and genetics testing invasive, and would rather not go through them. Some organizations conduct random drug tests while others ask job applicants to take the tests. Most labor unions advocate for support groups of substance abuse instead of conducting drug testing that might be stressful to the point of pushing individuals to take drugs and alcohol.

Genetic testing has been used in some companies so as to eliminate susceptible employees from an organization. The testing technique has been criticized because it might eliminate individuals from minority groups, such as African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics from employment opportunities. Furthermore, the genetic testing results might have little if any impact on the productivity of employees (Hazards Magazine, 2014).

The ethical issues that commonly arise in employment law matters

Laws that govern employees and organizations keep on changing over time. It is therefore prudent for employees to keep on reviewing the laws to ensure that they are compliant. In the recent past, many organizations have had to deal with employment law matters raised at lawsuits where they were the defendants and current or past employees were the plaintiffs. Some of such lawsuits are pegged on gender discrimination at the workplace. The largest number of complainants have been women who have been passed on for positions because of their gender. In some organizations, women are not offered certain positions because of the probability that they might get pregnant and therefore have to go for maternity leave. Some employers also believe that women are inferior to men and therefore cannot perform as expected (Walsh, 2012).

Organizations should specify the policies that they hold on gender-related issues and abide by them. If an organization states that they offer equal opportunities to both men and women, no record should arise of men being given preference or vice versa. Organizations should also be clear on federal and state laws in regards to age, disability, and employment. While it might be legal to turn away a fifty-year-old individual in some states, it might be illegal in other states to do so. Employers should also not turn away an individual for being severe especially if their papers show that the particular person is qualified. Such employers might expose their organization to a lawsuit especially if the obesity is because of medical grounds that the individual has no control over.

Clear guidelines should also be established and communicated to all members of the organization about sexual harassment. There should also be clear guidelines to be followed on action to be taken when sexual harassment occurs whereby confidentiality is maintained. Employers should be aware of the respective federal and state laws that govern conducting of background checks of potential employees. It is considered unlawful to disqualify an applicant because he/ she has ever been arrested. Employers are also not expected to tie an individual’s race to arrest background as a reason not to hire him/ her (Walsh, 2012).

Legal Compliance and Ethical Behavior in Employment

Monitoring employees is one of the ethical issues that arise when it comes to the proper treatment of employees by employers. Some issues that are considered unethical include checking employees’ private emails and phone conversations. It is also considered unethical when employers expose their employees to poor working conditions, such as providing poor lighting or insufficient tools that might expose individuals to health and safety problems. The respect that is portrayed in an organization should be mutual; between the employers and employees. Employers should set a good example in the manner in which they treat their employees. The management of the organization should strive to set high respect standards such that respect develops into a culture, independent of government and other legal regulations that should be part of an organization. Ethical practices in an organization make employees feel appreciated, which increases productivity in an organization.

The management in an organization should ensure that there is an ethical code that acts as a guideline on how employees are treated in the organization. There should also be ethics training for the employers and employees, which is conducted regularly. Employees should not be victimized when they raise concerns over ethical behavior in the organization especially if unacceptable practices are being perpetrated by senior managers in the organization (Collins, 2009). An employee handbook should exist in an organization so that it provides the conduct and expectations that employers have of their employees. Most organizations’ handbooks have information and guidelines on employees’ expected behavior in relation to drug and/or substance abuse. Employees are also issued guidelines on workplace relations and circumstances regarded as sexual harassment and remedies to such cases.


Collins, D. (2009). Essentials of Business Ethics: Creating an Organization of High Integrity          and Superior performance. Massachusetts: Wiley.

Hazards Magazine. (2014). Work privacy: Testing times. Web. 14 April 2014. Retrieved from 

Walsh, D. (2012). Employment Law for Human Resource Practice. Ohio. Cengage Brain.

Whittaker, W.G. (2003). The Fair Labor Standards Act. New York: Novinka.