Find the right lawyer now

Human Resources Laws

Find a Local Employment Lawyer near You

What Does "Human Resources" Mean?

Human Resources, or “HR,” refers to that department in an organization that manages personnel matters including hiring, compensation, training, disputes, benefits, and firing. Depending on the size and purpose of the business or company, an HR department may be comprised of a few individuals, or it may require the efforts of several different specialists. 

Human resources departments play an important role in ensuring efficient operations in any organization. For example, disputes between employees or between an employer and employee are typically resolved through HR. Although the term “human resources” technically describes the employed workforce in general, the terms is most commonly used to refer to the human resources department of a company.   

What Types of Legal Issues Are Handled by HR?

Human resources often handles many employment disputes that can lead to a legal claim. These may involve every step of the employment process, from hiring up until termination. Some of these legal issues may involve:

  • Discrimination
  • Equal Employment Opportunities
  • Classifications of employees
  • Compensation, including wage rates, pay days, and raises or deductions
  • Overtime policies
  • Meal and break periods
  • Employee benefits
  • Vacation and holiday standards
  • Personal leave and sick days
  • Evaluation of performance
  • Termination and retirement packages

Many workplace disputes end up being resolved through the cooperation of human resources with state or federal agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  However, if a government agency is unable to resolve the situation, the dispute could quickly lead to a civil lawsuit.  

What Types of Laws Cover Human Resources?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Although an entire network of federal and state law covers the duties of human resources, one of the most important and extensive HR laws is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its related amendments. This Act deals primarily with employment discrimination.

Under Title VII, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or recruits based on certain protected categories, such as religion, race, or national origin. The HR department certainly must abide by anti-discriminatory policies when performing their duties.

Equal Pay Act of 1963: This act requires equal pay for employees who perform equal work, and prohibits wage discrimination based on sex. Human resources often deals extensively with these issues.

Other important laws that regulate human resources practices include:

These are federal regulations which apply in every state. As mentioned above, in addition, a state may have its own employment laws, many of which may be stricter than federal statutes.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues with Human Resources?

Dealing with human resources is a necessary part of any employment arrangement. If you have concerns about your organization’s human resources department, you should contact an employment attorney for advice. Employment laws can often be intimidating, since the web of laws is so comprehensive. Your attorney can help clarify these laws for you, as many of them are subject to change.  Whether you are an employee, employer, or work in a human resources department, it is important to know your rights. 

Photo of page author Matthew Izzi

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 09-02-2014 03:46 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.