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Labor Day: 5 Employment Law Changes in 2014

For more than 100 years, Labor Day has been a federal holiday celebrating the role played by the American worker in shaping our nation's prosperity. And though Labor Day remains the first Monday of every September, what have certainly changed over the last 100 years are the laws governing labor. From wage and hour rules to workplace safety regulations, employment law is constantly evolving. To mark this year's Labor Day, here are five noteworthy changes to employment laws so far in 2014: Minimum wage increase for federal contract workers. During his State of the Union speech earlier this year, President Obama announced that he was going to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers. A month later, he signed an executive order to that effect, reports Reuters, raising the federal contract worker minimum wage to $10.10 an hour starting January 1st, 2015. State minimum wage increases. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 11 states and Washington D.C. raised the state minimum wage in 2014. These states include Hawaii, Michigan, Vermont, and Rhode Island. California whistleblower protections. California kicked off 2014 by rolling out changes to state employment laws protecting whistleblowers, reports The Wall Street Journal. Among the new rules are expanded prohibitions from employer retaliation against employees who report suspected illegal activity internally, including rules guarding against employers who take action against an employee in anticipation of that employee reporting illegal activity. Veteran discrimination protection. There were several new laws passed in 2014 prohibiting employers from discriminating against veterans of the armed services. In Indiana, HEA 1242 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against veterans of any armed services branch or current members of the Indiana National Guard. Added protections for pregnant women. Also added to the list of protected classes for purposes of workplace discrimination law: pregnant women. Earlier this year, New Jersey amended its state Law Against Discrimination to include pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, reports Think Progress. The federal Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission also issued new guidelines clarifying federal rules against pregnancy discrimination. If you have a question about labor law or feel your rights have been violated, an employment lawyer can help explain your legal options. And regardless, enjoy your Labor Day! Related Resources: What is Labor Day? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Things an Employment Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can't) (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Requesting FMLA Leave From Your Employer (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can Your Boss Make You Work on a Holiday? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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How Did Presidents Day Become a Holiday?

Celebrating Presidents Day as a holiday did not come about until around the last four decades, but its roots go back to our first president. How did we come to celebrate the third Monday in February as "Presidents Day"? The Celebration of Washington's Birthday Although Presidents Day is now recognized as honoring the birthdays of President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln, the holiday started as just a celebration of Washington's birthday. Depending on which calendar system you ascribed to (Julian or Gregorian) in the time of the Founding Fathers, Washington's birthday fell either on February 11 or February 22, according to an article in Time. To celebrate his birth, early Americans celebrated on February 22 with large D.C. galas and of course ... drinking. However, the celebration wasn't written into federal law until 1880, making Washington the first person to be honored with a federal holiday. (Although he had been dead a good deal longer, the person (mis)credited with discovering our nation -- Christopher Columbus -- wouldn't get his own federal holiday until 1934.) The Debate Over 'Presidents Day' By the 20th century, ideas had begun to shift around the celebration of Washington's birthday. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act into law in 1968, shifting Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Washington's Birthday to Mondays in order to lengthen weekends. According to The American Presidency Project, LBJ hoped this shift would allow Americans more time to travel and be with their families. This Act, now inscribed in law under Title 5 Section 6013 of the United States Code, didn't change the name of the holiday to "Presidents Day," and the federal government still recognizes the holiday only as "Washington's Birthday." The advent of "Presidents Day" was really pushed by business. According to Time, businesses in Texas and California used the power of marketing to promote "Presidents Day" as a way to promote sales during the month of February. Some states were already celebrating Lincoln's birthday on February 12, so stores took the opportunity to have "Presidents Day" anytime between the two presidents' birth celebrations. Through a combination of capitalism and overlapping state holidays, the holiday we commonly know as "Presidents Day" came into being. Related Resources: Presidents' Day (The History Channel) Presidents Day: Top 5 Presidential Lawsuits (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Do I Get Paid Overtime on Federal Holidays? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) How Did MLK Day Become a Federal Holiday? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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