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The Riley Guide

The Riley Guide: Before You Search or Handling a Job Loss

Legal Issues in Employment & Hiring

There are laws governing your rights before, during, and after an interview, and more laws governing your rights as an employee. There are also laws governing what a potential employer can ask of you as a candidate for hire. Be prepared.

We also have information on NonCompete / NonDisclosure Agreements, Executive Severance, and Improper Interview Questions.

Your Rights as a Job Seeker or Employee

Job Listings

job title, keywords
city, state, zip
jobs by job search
Employment Law & Human Resources from FindLaw
General legal information on hiring, wages, discrimination, termination, and much more. It is important for you to know what employers can and cannot do in these situations so you recognize problems when they occur. Specific sections in this area include pre-employment medical and drug testing, background and credit checks, employment contracts, and immigration and hiring alien workers. You will need to input your zip code to review articles, and they just ask this so they can target resources to your area. No names needed.
Mark Carey, P.C.
...a law firm specializing in executive compensation and employment law and exclusively representing executives and employees. The firm's website includes information and news about Executive Compensation, Severance Negotiation and Employment Law disputes. They have some good articles with information on restrictive covenants, "make whole" payments, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Consumer Information: Employment
This section of the website offers three quick articles on employment issues that affect many in the workforce. The articles on Understand Discrimination and Understanding Harassment discuss these issues, how to recognize if you are a victim, and how to proceed with a complaint. The third article is for employers, discussing their rights and responsibilities with regards to paperwork and their relationship with their employees. is operated by the law firm of Morgan & Morgan, "one of the leading Plaintiff's law firms in the country, representing clients nationwide." You might want to review other topics they cover here.
...extensive information about employee rights along with letters and forms you can download for a nominal fee and use to document problems and file complaints with appropriate agencies. online directory of information on employment law and discrimination along with the resources for you to contact a lawyer, should you need one.
Wages, US Dept. of Labor
Information on a variety of regulations and other legal issues dealing with wages, including overtime pay, severance, final paycheck, and minimum wage, made available from the U.S. Department of Labor. They link to relevant federal wage and hour laws for each topic and note when areas may be covered by state law instead of federal. A good resource to remember if you do not feel you are being compensated properly according to law.
D.C. Employment Justice Center
"The mission of the D.C. Employment Justice Center is to secure and enforce the rights of low-income workers in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area by providing legal assistance on employment law matters to the working poor, and by supporting a local workers' rights movement, bringing together low-wage workers and advocates for the poor, to foster a more just community in our nation's capital." Persons outside of the DC area will appreciate the links to worker's rights and employment laws and the numerous free publications on worker's rights, including some with advice for job seekers with criminal records. Some documents are more focused on the DC area, but many are useful to all. Almost all of these can be downloaded from the site using the free Adobe Acrobat reader, and several are available in Spanish.
YouthRules! from the US Dept. of Labor
What are your rights as a teenager in finding a job and keeping it? Here's where you find out. The YouthRules! initiative from the U.S. Department of Labor and its strategic partners promotes "positive and safe work experiences for young workers." This web site includes information for teens, parents, educators, employers, and the general public on Federal and State rules governing the hours and type of work that young employees may perform.
US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) works to eliminate illegal discrimination from the workplace. Their website includes information on federal laws prohibiting job discrimination, how to file a charge against your employer for discriminatory practices, small business information, data on the federal sector, and much more. The site also provides access to press releases dating back to 1994.
Labor and Employment Laws of the Fifty States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico
...a nice page of links to the sources you want to review, courtesy of the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School.
My Employment Lawyer (MEL)
...a network of employment lawyers across the United States who represent individual employees. MEL connects you to employment law and the attorneys who practice it. This service was created by Neil Klingshirn of the Akron (OH) firm of Fortney & Klingshirn.
Workplace Fairness
...a nonprofit organization promoting workplace policies and practices that work for all. This group is allied with the National Employment Lawyers Association, "the nation's largest association of advocates for workplace rights." Sections of this site include books you can purchase, free advice covering numerous topics, and links to other resources you may want to review. There are several legal disclaimers on the site that you will have to "click through" in order to reach resources, but this minor inconvenience is worth the effort in order to review the valuable information and resources gathered here.
US Dept of Labor Elaws Advisors
...."help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the employment laws and regulations administered by the Department of Labor (DOL)." Topics covered here include Wage, Hour, and Other Workplace Standards; Retirement and Health Benefit Standards, and much more. Search by keyword, choose an agency (like Veterans Employment and Training Service) or choose some pre-defined advisors to work through. These are designed for both employees and employers to know their rights and responsibilities in the world of work. (was the Federal Consumer Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado know these people! The many pamphlets you can read online cover Employment, Family, Education, Health, and much more published by a variety of Federal agencies. You'll find career guides, job search guides, and even legal advice. Excellent! All of the guides can be downloaded for free (PDF format), and some are available in print for a moderate fee.
...nice online legal center covering issues for employers, employees, job seekers, and more.
Nolo is the popular publisher of do-it-yourself legal guides. This site is filled with free information and advice on many topics, including trademarks and patents, employment law, and information for independent consultants.

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Pre-Employment Testing

Employment Tests: Pre-Employment Testing and Selection, Alison Doyle,
"I frequently get asked whether pre-employment tests and background checks are legal. The short answer is yes. Companies can test applicants for employment. The longer answer is that the tests must be non-discriminatory and the tests must be properly administered." Alison talks about why employers use the tests, what each covers, and suggests some additional online articles that you might read to learn even more.
Employment Tests: Get an edge, Erica Klein (
"When you are in the running for a job there is a good chance you will be asked to take some tests. There are things you can do to help make this a win-win situation for both you and the employer."

The resources listed under Your Rights as a Job Seeker including more information on this topic.

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The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA)
This federal law established guidelines for polygraph testing and imposed restriction on most private employers. The following is a brief summary of the essential elements of the law. Courtesy of the American Polygraph Association.
What is a Polygraph?
...frequently asked questions about this testing method, including its use in preemployment testing in various work arenas. Provided by CNC Polygraph, Inc..

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Credit Reports & Background Checks
..."the ONLY authorized source to get your free annual credit report under federal law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion -- every twelve months." []. If you are unsure of your credit history and how it might impact your job search, you can request a free credit report through this site once a year. You can read more about this service on the FTC's website.
Use of Credit Information in Employment 2012 Legislation, National Conference of State Legislatures
Is it legal for employers in your state to use an applicant's credit report in the decision to deny employment? In some states, it is NOT. The chart lists state legislation introduced or pending during the 2012 legislative session relating to the use of credit information in employment along with those states who have enacted legislation restricting use of this information in the hiring process. The total number of states that limit employers' use of credit information in employment is now seven: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington. The list is updated annually, so when you look at this list make sure you are looking at the most current version.
Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know (Federal Trade Commission)
This document from the Federal Trade Commission outlines the policies and procedures employers must follow when using credit reports as a part of the hiring / promotion / reassignment / retention process. You may also want to review the full site dedicated to providing you with information on the FCRA.
Background Checks and Workplace
A collection of fact sheets, alerts, and articles on background checks, who can request them, how they can be used, and much more. From the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
FACTA, The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act: Consumers Win Some, Lose Some, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
I will point out item #9 in this report: Workplace Investigations. Your employer does NOT need to give you notice nor get your permission to conduct a misconduct investigation.
How Private Is My Credit Report?, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Take note of item #7 in the list: Investigative Consumer Reports: Employment, Insurance, and Rental Housing. "Federal law requires the requester of an investigative consumer report for employment purposes to obtain permission to conduct the report. An exception would be, for example, if an employee were being investigated for possible criminal activity."
If you are one of the thousands struggling to keep up with credit card payments, the major credit cards have created a new website to educate and assist you. Please visit the Financial Education Resources from Discover or MoneyWi$e to learn about managing your credit, programs available to assist you, and what to do if you start having problems.

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Talking about Disabilities

Title I Employment Information
A collection of documents covering the rights of the disabled during a job search along with guidelines for employers. Provided by the Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center.
JAN for Individuals
...links to resources and guides on job searching, accommodation ideas, and your rights including pre-employment questions and ADA compliance. This information is provided by JAN, the Jobs Accommodation Network
EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
...issued 7/27/2000, this enforcement guidance explains when it is permissible for employers to make disability-related inquiries or require medical examinations of employees. The Guidance applies to private and to state and local government employers with fifteen or more employees. Federal sector employers are also covered by the Guidance, as the result of the 1992 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act.

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