HR Compliance—Key Laws for Fairness, Diversity, and Inclusion

There’s a lot you need to keep track of as an HR professional with regards to the laws and regulations for hiring and employment. While it’s essential to follow legislation to avoid costly penalties and liability, HR compliance isn’t just about crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s. These rules help keep your employees safe by protecting them from discrimination, harassment, and other unfair or dangerous treatment.

Don’t think of labor laws and HR regulations as all that red tape that makes things harder for you and your organization. Instead, think of HR laws as a way to ensure your employees have guaranteed access to certain rights and protections.

This chapter will cover the basic definition for the most relevant and important HR laws (but be sure to keep up to date as HR regulations and labor laws may change over time). We’ll discuss:

While not a labor law per se, diversity, equity, and inclusion principles will help you grow a culture where anti-discrimination, HR compliance, and workplace safety aren’t just afterthoughts but integral parts of your values.


Workplace Discrimination

What Are the Main Federal Anti-Discrimination Employment Laws?

Employers need to follow federal anti-discrimination laws in order to protect their employees and remain compliant.

Here are some of the main HR laws:

Each of these HR laws also protects anyone from retaliation for making a complaint or participating in an investigation relating to discrimination based on any of these laws. For more details on these laws and other discrimination laws relating to employment, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website.

How Many Employees Does a Business Need to Have for Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws to Apply?

Small and medium businesses in the private sector have different requirements for following federal anti-discrimination laws, depending on how many employees they have.

The following federal anti-discrimination laws apply if you have:

An employee is defined as anyone who is:

Federal law also requires employers to display the relevant anti-discrimination laws with a poster, informing employees of their protections and rights. For more information on the HR compliance requirements for small and medium-sized business, visit the EEOC website. Be sure to also check if there are any additional state or local anti-discrimination laws you need to follow.