Case Scenarios in U.S. Labor Laws

Situation A: Provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) became effective on August 5, 1993, after former President Bill Clinton fulfilled his campaign promise and signed it into law in his first term of office. In its provisions, an eligible employee is entitled to take an unpaid, job-protected leave of 12 weeks each year for a particular family and medical grounds (Vikesland, 2006). The law promised abundant protections to workers after it became obvious that there was a growing need to balance work, family, and personal obligations.

The law allows employees to take the specified leave after it becomes obvious that such an employee is unable to perform his or her duties due to a serious health condition, wants to take care of a newborn daughter or son, or wants to take care of a sick family member. These extended leaves of absence are undertaken without the concerned employees being forced into lower job categories or without fear of being terminated upon their return.

According to the provisions of the FMLA, no federal acts and labor relations acts of employee X have been violated, and as such, the employee should feel contented with what is been offered by the new departmental manager. Besides being offered his old job back, the act is clear that any leave undertaken by any eligible employee should be unpaid. The leave should also not extend more than 12 weeks, a provision well met by employee X as he undertook a leave of 11 weeks to take care of his prematurely born twins. This is a serious health condition on the part of immediate family members, a provision well covered under the act.

According to Vikesland (2006), for any employee to be eligible for the leave, the employer must have at least employed 50 or more workers within a radius of 75 miles. In addition, the worker must have worked for the employer for a minimum of 1 year and 1,250 hours in the previous year. No federal, State, or labor act appears to may have been violated on these accounts since employee X has indeed worked for the company for 2 years, and the company has a total of 75 employees.

The employee has indeed been protected for exercising rights preferred upon him under the Act. The employer has not in any way denied or interfered with the rights of the employee. According to the provisions of the Act, all benefits accruing to the employee must be protected while on leave, and must also be reinstated upon return to employment. This indeed has been taken care of since the new departmental manager has promised to accommodate employee X back to his previous job, and at the previous rate of pay and benefits. No violation of the rights of the employee has therefore occurred under the Act.

Situation B: Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

Under SEC. 621 [Section2] of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, the Congress of the United States of America found and declared that older workers were finding it difficult to retain employment, especially in their efforts to regain employment opportunities after being displaced from their jobs due to rising productivity and affluence in the society (ADEA, 2008). It was becoming common practice for employers to set arbitrary age limits regardless of an employee’s ability or potential to perform on the job.

This was working to the disadvantage of older workers. Also, it was revealed that incidences of long-term employment that resulted in deterioration of skill, employer acceptability, and morale were relative among young workers and high among older workers. This further served to compound an already grave situation of unemployment that was affecting older employees. It was therefore imperative to promote the employment of older employees based on their potential to perform on the job rather than age; to curtail subjective age discrimination in employment and help workers and employers find solutions to problems cropping up from the impact of age on employment.

Under Sec. 623 [Section 4] of the Act, it is therefore unlawful for any employer to segregate, limit, or classify workers in any manner that would “deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s age or…” (ADEA, 2008). The Act provides protection to workers who are 40 years of age or older from any form of discrimination in employment. It is therefore unlawful to discriminate against any individual based on his or her age with respect to any condition, term, or privilege of employment, including promotion, compensation, job assignments, benefits, training, hiring and firing (Age Discrimination, 2008).

As such the rights of Employee B, who was 68 years old and performed “above average” during the annual performance review were greatly violated. She could have received the promotion, not because of her advancing age but rather because of her performance.

Situation C: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it illegal for any State, local government, private employer, labor union, or employment agency to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, job training, advancements, hiring, firing, and other terms, circumstances, and opportunities that come with employment (Disability Discrimination, 2008).

However, employers must have a minimum of 15 employees to be covered under the act. In the case scenario, the job applicant is disabled due to paralysis of both legs and requires the use of a wheelchair to move around the entire company offices. Under the Act, such an individual has a disability since he has a physical impairment that substantially limits his ability to move around the offices using his legs. He is qualified for the job since under the Act; he is capable of performing the important job requirements with reasonable accommodation.

Under the Act, the company is supposed to offer individual C “reasonable accommodation” to facilitate him in performing his chore duties since he is qualified for the job. The Act is specific that the employer must make any existing facility that is to be used by the disabled readily accessible and usable. The employer has the options of restructuring the job that is to be done by the disabled, modifying work schedules, reassigning the disabled to any other vacant position, acquire or modifying the equipments to be used by the disabled, among many other options under the Act (The Americans with Disabilities, 2007).

In this respect, there was a serious violation of the Act since the employer did not consider all the said options before declining to employ the disabled job seeker. The employer was supposed to lower the keypads in two of the four elevators – a provision well covered under the Act.

However, the Act goes on to say that such provision of “reasonable accommodation” to a disabled person must not cause “undue hardship” on the part of the company. Under the Act, the term signifies any action that requires a substantial expense or difficulty, when such an action is considered in respect of the following factors:

  • The cost and nature of the reasonable accommodation needed by the disabled
  • The general financial position of the facility or facilities that will be involved in the provision or making of reasonable accommodation, the number of employees, and the impact on resources and expenses that such reasonable accommodation is expected to generate on the operations of the facility or facilities.
  • The general financial reserves of the covered entity (employer), its overall size with respect to the number of workers; and the location, number, and type of its facilities.
  • The type of operations of the covered entity, including its structure, compositions and functions of the workers; and the administrative, geographic separateness, or fiscal association of the facility or facilities to the covered entity (The Americans with Disabilities, 2007).

Based on the above factors, the Act is very clear that individualized evaluation of the current situation and circumstances must be undertaken to show that a particular reasonable accommodation would cause the company’s significant expense or difficulty. In my view, this was not undertaken. All options for external funding must first be scrutinized before jumping into the conclusion that a specific accommodation is costly.

According to the Act, an employer is obliged to first determine whether funding for the reasonable accommodation needed can be available from an external source such as the state rehabilitation agency, or whether the employer can be eligible for state tax deductions or credits that can assist in offsetting the cost of the accommodation (Enforcement Guidance, 2002). This was not done too. Lastly, it is difficult to understand how a company employing 15 employees could argue that lowering the keypads in two of the four elevators was an activity that could have caused them undue hardship. In that respect, it is imperative to conclude that serious violations of the Act indeed occurred.


Age Discrimination. (2008). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Web.

Disability Discrimination. (2008). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Web.

Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and undue hardship under the Americans with disabilities Act. (2002). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Web.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967. (2008). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Web.

The Americans with disabilities Act of 1990, Titles 1 and V. (1997). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Web.

Vikesland, G. (2006). The Family & Medical Leave Act. Web.