Updated October 29, 2020:

Louisiana Labor Laws

Louisiana labor laws define a break as a period of time where employees are not performing duties for a mandated period of time. Someone who is on a break but takes phone calls or performs work duties is not considered to be on break and must be compensated. An employer cannot deny wages for this period of time.

Employers must compensate scheduled breaks under 30 minutes. If an employer states the length of a break period and an employee takes a break longer than the said period, the employer does not have to provide compensation.

Labor laws require employers to provide a meal break to employees who are under 18 years of age and are working for more than five consecutive hours. There are no laws for employees over 18 years of age so the federal rule applies. The federal rule does not require an employer to provide for or pay wages for a meal period or breaks, but an employer that does provide a break must pay for any break that lasts less than 20 minutes.

Working mothers are allowed time for breastfeeding their child up to one year after giving birth. Breastfeeding mothers must be given a clean and private area to breastfeed that is not a bathroom. Employers who fail to provide either are in violation of Louisiana labor laws.

Severance Pay

Louisiana does not require employers to give terminated employees severance pay. If an employer does offer the benefit, it has to comply with its own internal policies on a severance package.

Louisiana Laws on Harassment and Discrimination

Employers cannot make decisions grounded on color, race, sex including pregnancy, religion, or national origin under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers may also not discriminate based on age, genetic information, or disability.

State law applies to employers with at least 20 employees. The Louisiana Commission on Human Rights is in charge of enforcing the state discrimination law.

Sexual harassment is covered by these laws. Someone who complains about sexual harassment is protected from retaliation by the employer no matter if the complaint is filed with the EEOC, a lawsuit, or the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.

Louisiana Laws on Workplace Safety and Injuries

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires all employers to keep a safe workplace that's free from known hazards. They must provide the necessary training and safety equipment for their particular industry.

Employees have the right to ask for an OSHA inspection if they feel their employer is violating safety standards. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who have complained about hazardous working conditions.

Wage and Hour Law In Louisiana

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) sets the pay standards that Louisiana employers must follow. The standards include the minimum wage, overtime pay, and other related wage and hour rules. An employer must pay the highest minimum age applicable to employees set by state, federal, or local law. As Louisiana does not have a minimum wage, it uses FSLA's minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Employers have the right to pay a lower hourly wage to employees who earn tips as long as the wage plus tips meet the full minimum hourly wage. Louisiana allows employers to pay as little as $2.13 an hour for tipped employees.

Louisiana has no overtime law, but employees are protected by the FSLA which requires employers to pay time and a half for all hours worked after the first 40 in a single week. Exempt employees, such as those who are salaried as defined by law, are not eligible for overtime. Other people who are not entitled to overtime pay include:

  • Salespeople who work on a commission basis
  • Transportation industry employees
  • Farm laborers
  • Employees who have not received more than an 8th-grade education or failed to complete high school

Someone who feels that their labor rights have been violated should contact the Hours and Wages division of the United States Department of Labor.

Time Off From Work in Louisiana

Many employers offer employees paid leave that includes vacation time, sick days, or paid time off, but the benefits are at the discretion of the employer. However, employers may be required to offer unpaid leave for reasons that include:

  • Medical and family leave
  • School activities
  • Military leave
  • Jury duty

School activities allow employees at least 16 hours of unpaid time off per year so they can participate or observe a child's school activities and conferences. Military leave can be invoked under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act along with the FMLA for the family of military members.

Family and medical leave fall under the FMLA which requires employers with at least 50 employees to give qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time every year. The act covers needs that include caregiving, bonding with a new child, and illness. Louisiana law gives employees the right to time off for disability that relates to pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to either condition.

Pregnancy leave applies to employers with at least 25 employees. The employer must let the employee take up to six weeks off for normal pregnancy and childbirth, and up to four months off for pregnancies that are disabling.

Leaving Your Job in Louisiana

Employees in Louisiana are considered to work at will. This means the employee can leave at any time for any reason and can be fired at any time for any reason that is not illegal. But at-will employees may not be fired for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons. An employer may not fire an employee for making a complaint about discrimination, filing a wage claim against an employer, or making a complaint with OSHA.

Unemployment and Insurance Benefits

If someone becomes unemployed for no reason or fault of their own, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits. The minimum qualification is earning $1200 in a one-year period prior to losing the job. If eligible, an employee will receive a percentage of their previous earnings up to 26 weeks while they seek a new job. In the event an employee has health insurance through their employer, they can continue their coverage through COBRA or find a policy on the ACA health insurance exchange.

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