Labor Standards in America 

A wide range of state and federal laws protect the rights of workers. Some of the most important federal labor laws include the following.

The Adamson Act passed in 1916, was a United States law  that established an eight-hour workday, with additional pay for overtime work, for railroad workers. This was the first federal law that regulated the hours of workers in private companies. The United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Act in 1917.The eight-hour day was realized for many working people in the U.S. in 1938, when the Fair labor Standards Act under the New Deal made it a legal day's work throughout the nation.

The Railway Labor Act, passed In 1926, required employers to bargain collectively and prohibiting discrimination against unions.

The Davis-Bacon Act, passed in 1931 during the Great Depression, sets a minimum pay scale for workers on federal contracts by requiring contractors to pay the prevailing or average pay in the region.

The Norris-LaGuardia Act, passed in 1932, during the last year of the Hoover Administration, was the first in a series of laws passed by Congress in the 1930s which gave Federal sanction to the right of labor unions to organize and strike, and to use other forms of economic leverage in dealings with management.

The National Industry Recovery Act (NRA) was passed in 1933, at the request of newly inaugurated President Franklin Roosevelt. The Act sought to provide codes of "fair competition" and to fix wages and hours in industries subscribing to such codes.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, was by far the most important labor legislation of the 1930s, more popularly known as the Wagner Act, after its sponsor, Sen. Robert F. Wagner (NY-D). This law included reenactment of the previously invalidated labor sections of the NRA as well as a number of additions. Among those unfair labor practices forbidden by the Act were:

The Byrnes Act of 1936, named for Sen. James Byrnes (SC-D) and amended in 1938, made it a felony to transport any person in interstate commerce who was employed for the purpose of using force of threats against non-violent picketing in a labor dispute or against organizing or bargaining efforts.

The Walsh-Healy Act, passed in 1936, stated that workers must be paid not less than the "prevailing minimum wage" normally paid in a locality; restricted regular work ing hours to eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, with time-and-a-half pay for additional hours.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 sets national minimum wages and maximum hours individuals can be required to work. It also sets rules for overtime pay and standards to prevent child-labor abuses. In 1963, the act was amended to prohibit wage discrimination against women.

The Labor-Management Relations Act, passed in 1947, commonly known as the Taft-Hartley Act, is a United States Federal Law that greatly restricts the activities and power of labor unions. The act, still largely in effect, was sponsored by Senator Robert Taft and Representative Fred Hartley Jr. and passed over U.S. President Harry Truman's veto on June 23, 1947, establishing the act as a law. Truman had described the act as a "slave-labor bill", adding that it would "conflict with important principles of our democratic society. The Taft-Hartley Act amended the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA, also known as the Wagner Act), which Congress had passed in 1935.

The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act) deals with the relationship between a union and its members. It protects union funds and promotes union democracy by requiring labor organizations to file annual financial reports, by requiring union officials, employers, and labor consultants to file reports regarding certain labor relations practices, and by establishing standards for the election of union officers.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 establishes that employers cannot discriminate in hiring or employment practices on the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin. The law also prohibits discrimination in voting and housing.

The Age and Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects older workers against job discrimination.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1971 requires employers to maintain safe working conditions. Under this law, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develops workplace standards, conducts inspections to assess compliance with them, and issues citations and imposes penalties for noncompliance.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 guarantees employees unpaid time off for childbirth, for adoption, or for caring for seriously-ill relatives.

The Americans With Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, assures job rights for handicapped persons.