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Workplace Policies & Postings

Why Labor Law Posting Compliance Matters

Are you aware that federal and state laws require you to post certain notices throughout your business informing applicants and employees of their workplace rights?

Specifically, federal law requires your business to post six separate employee notices (five if you have fewer than 50 employees company-wide). State laws, as well, require multiple employee postings. Depending on the state where you operate, this could mean posting up to 14 additional postings per state (for a total of 20 state and federal postings at each posting site).

It doesn’t stop there. If you’re a federal contractor or if your business is in the public sector, healthcare or food service industries, you’ll need to keep up with additional employee posting requirements. Further still, specific city and local postings may apply.

It’s important to note that postings are issued by multiple agencies, and that a “one-stop” government resource for posting compliance does not exist.

Plus, the postings change frequently, with no official notification from the government when changes occur.

Although staying on top of posting laws can be time-consuming, the risk of ignoring them is a risk your business cannot afford to take. Failure to post mandatory employment notices can result in steep government fines. Even worse, overlooking outdated postings can increase your exposure in employee lawsuits – especially in discrimination lawsuits, FMLA cases and class-action FLSA proceedings.

Mandatory Federal Postings for Employers

If you’re a business with at least one employee, you’re required by law to display federal posters in a common area of your workplace frequented by employees and applicants.

You also have a responsibility to keep up with the latest posting changes. The government issues new or updated versions of federal postings whenever necessary to address new laws, procedures, administrative guidelines or new contact information. While it’s true that federal posting changes occur less frequently than state law changes, they have a greater impact because they affect nearly every employer nationwide.

Here are the six mandatory federal postings, including details on what the law covers, which businesses are affected and posting instructions:

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Poster
Informs applicants and employees of Equal Employment Opportunity laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Equal Pay Act (EPA).

Who must post: Employers with 15 or more employees

Who enforces: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Posting instructions: Display where all employees and applicants can see it.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Poster
Describes in detail the federal law regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, equal pay for equal work and child labor.

Who must post: Every private, federal, state and local government company or organization with employees subject to the FLSA

Who enforces: U.S. Department of Labor – Employment Standards Administration

Posting instructions: Display in a conspicuous location accessible to all employees, such as employee break rooms, entrance areas, lounges and near time clock stations.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Poster
Summarizes the major provisions of the FMLA and tells applicants and employees how to file a complaint.

Who must post: Public agencies (including federal, state and local employers), public and private elementary and secondary schools, and private employers with 50 or more employees.

Who enforces: U.S. Department of Labor – Employment Standards Administration

Posting instructions: Display where all employees and applicants can see it. Note: You must display the poster at every business location, even if there are no eligible employees. Also, if a significant portion of your workforce is not proficient in English, you must provide the poster in a language the employees speak.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Poster
Explains that employees are entitled to a workplace free from recognized hazards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, with guidance on how to report workplace hazards.

Who must post: Private employers engaged in a business affecting commerce

Who enforces: U.S. Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Posting instructions: Display in a conspicuous location accessible to all employees, such as employee break rooms, entrance areas, lounges and near time clock stations. (If you’re in a state that operates OSHA-approved state plans, you must also post the state’s equivalent poster).

Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) Poster
Informs applicants and employees that employers are prohibited from requesting or requiring lie detector tests for employment purposes and from retaliating against them if they refuse to take lie detector tests.

Who must post: Any employer engaged in or affecting commerce, or in the production of goods for commerce

Who enforces: U.S. Department of Labor – Employment Standards Administration

Posting instructions: Display where all employees and applicants can see it.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Right Act (USERRA) Notice
Summarizes the rights and benefits under USERRA, the federal law pertaining to uniformed service members and their civilian employers.

Who must post: All employers

Who enforces: U.S. Department of Labor – Veterans’ Employment and Training Service

Posting instructions: Display where all employees and applicants can see it.

Compliance with Additional State Posting Requirements

Beyond the six employee postings required by federal law, you need to be aware of the additional postings necessary under state law. In fact, depending on where your business operates, this could mean displaying up to 14 additional postings (for a total of 20 state and federal postings at each site).

Various state agencies issue up to 150 posting changes each year, with about 50 percent of them considered mandatory by law. Requiring either new postings or replacement of outdated ones, state-issued changes typically cover:

Workers’ compensation
Unemployment insurance
State minimum wage
Fair employment
Family/medical leave benefits
Whistleblower laws
Postings change frequently. And similar to federal postings, government agencies do not notify businesses when these changes occur. Rather, you’re responsible for keeping track of mandatory changes and displaying the most current version to avoid fines and other legal liability.

Also, you’re required to display both state and federal postings, even if they address the same topic, or if they provide conflicting information. This can occur when states pass their own laws giving employees more protection than federal law. For example, most states have a higher minimum wage than federal law, more generous medical leave laws and broader rules against discrimination. Regardless if the two laws vary, you must post both federal and state versions.

Posting Requirements for Off-Site Workers and Non-Traditional Worksites

If you have employees who work from home (remote workers or telecommuters), you may wonder how to share the mandatory federal and state notices with them. Are you expected to send them full-size, laminated posters? Not necessarily!

By law, you’re responsible for communicating the information in these notices to all employees. Yet the regulations don’t specify how that’s supposed to be done, whether to use a certain solution or format, or whether it has to be paper or electronic. Something to consider: In recent opinion letters and court cases, employers who sent notices electronically were told by the courts that it’s a smart alternative – they fulfilled their duty to get the notices to their remote workers and that’s what matters.

For this reason, you should consider a posting service that provides electronic postings to any remote workers with Internet access, such as field salespeople, traveling nurses and home-based workers. Workers can download, view and acknowledge receipt of all required postings, which satisfies your good-faith effort to communicate their rights, as covered in the mandatory federal and state notices.

What about postings for non-traditional worksites?

Another challenge in getting federal and state posting information to your employees is workstations and worksites that don’t have walls or any way to hang up the required postings. Some good examples are mall kiosks, food trucks, valet stations and mobile service units (more common in healthcare). Many of these sites don’t have Internet access or any kind of mobile device provided for your employees.

Like with remote workers, it makes sense to explore a posting service that is equipped to handle this particular challenge. A smart solution in this case is a compact binder that includes all the mandatory federal and state posters to give to off-site employees. New locations receive a complete binder to get started, as well as updated pages whenever a mandatory change occurs. Especially if it’s a 3-ring binder, you can easily remove the old postings and insert the new ones to make sure you’re always in compliance.

Remember: Electronic postings for remote workers and binders for non-traditional worksites are intended for unique environments with little or no wall space. They do not satisfy posting requirements for standard work environments, such as offices, warehouse and retail sites, and are not substitutes for full-size posters.

Don’t Overlook Compliance with Industry-Specific Postings

Depending on the industry in which you do business, you may have additional posting requirements beyond the regular federal and state postings. The industries impacted the most are public sector employers, employers in the healthcare industry and employers in the restaurant industry.

As with the primary federal and state posters discussed on this site, your business is responsible for monitoring any posting changes and displaying updated postings whenever laws or regulations change. A reputable labor law posting provider can help with this by offering all federal, state and industry-specific postings along with automatic updates to keep you current.

Here’s what you need to know if your business falls under one of these industry categories:

Public sector
Not to be confused with publicly traded companies, this applies to the public sector, which are government employers. Among the additional requirements is an entirely different federal poster that has its own version of the OSHA and FLSA posters. Most states have their own public sector employee posting requirements, too.

Examples are an E-Verify poster, Right to Know poster, Whistleblower Protection poster, notices about electronic monitoring and privacy, and specific smoking rules.

Who is affected: Police or fire stations, public schools, courthouses, public transit offices, and federal, state and local government agencies

Up to 20 additional notices beyond the federal and state postings may be necessary, depending on the state you are in and what type of facility you operate.

Examples are radiation notices, employee notices about patient rights, overtime rules for employees in healthcare, and special ethics and complaint procedures.

Who is affected: Medical offices, hospitals, clinics and urgent care centers

Again, additional employee-facing notices may be necessary, depending on the state you are in.

Examples are choking response guidelines, notices for tipped employees, CPR procedures, information about serving alcohol to minors, and state-mandated posters on hand washing.

Who is affected: Restaurants, diners, taverns, cafeterias, snack bars and other food-service facilities

Why Do-It-Yourself Posting Compliance is Costly and Time-Consuming

Many businesses make the mistake of thinking government posters are “free,” and that they can handle posting compliance on their own.

However, when you consider the time and resources required to keep your postings current – especially if you operate in multiple states – you quickly realize how posting compliance is anything but free.

Here’s what it takes to do it yourself:

Pinpoint federal and state posting requirements applicable to your business.
You must determine every required posting for applicants and employees (including federal, state and industry-specific postings), whether posters are mandatory or recommended, and the specific legal requirements for each posting regarding size, font, color, layout and foreign language requirements. If you operate in more than one state, you must investigate posting requirements for each state. This means you may have to post from 9 to 20 different federal and state postings at each posting site, depending on the state. Additional postings are required for federal contractors, employers in certain industries, and facilities in certain cities or counties.
Find out names and contact information for each government agency responsible for issuing posters.
You can’t turn to a a one-stop government resource for your federal and state postings. Instead, you must determine what agencies are responsible for enforcing each posting applicable to your business and where/how to contact them. There are more than 175 issuing agencies nationwide, and you may need to contact up to 9 different agencies per state to obtain all the federal and state-mandated postings.
Contact multiple agencies and follow up to obtain postings.
Once you determine what posters you need and what agencies provide them, you must contact each agency to request the postings. Most postings can be downloaded from government websites, but others must be requested by phone and are sent by mail. If you are handling multiple sites, it can be difficult to track which posters have been requested -- and to follow up to make sure you’ve received every poster. Additionally, government websites often leave up old links with outdated posters, so it takes time and know-how to determine which posters to download.
Make adjustments to comply with size/font/color requirements.
If you download postings from government websites, you must research and confirm that the printouts generated from each download comply with legal requirements for size, font, color and layout. This typically involves legal research (size/font requirements may be buried in statutory language, regulations or agency guidelines) and/or additional contact with the issuing agency. If your printouts do not comply, you must adjust the format using a photocopier, scanner or other office equipment, or use a copy/design service.
Post individual paper sheets and maintain posting centers.
Once you have obtained all of the required postings, you would need to mount the individual paper sheets (9 to 20 separate postings, not including additional postings required for certain industries, federal contractors, and in certain cities or counties) at each posting location throughout your business, including applicant areas and employee break rooms. Because you are using individual sheets of paper, you must take additional measures to secure and protect each posting site to prevent the postings from being altered, removed or damaged.
Continually monitor laws and government websites for posting changes.
Once you have the appropriate postings, you must regularly check back with the issuing agencies to determine when/if the posters change. Government agencies regularly issue new and updated postings (approximately 150 changes a year), and they do not notify businesses when these changes occur. It is up to you to monitor posting requirements and display the latest version. To hone in on a poster change, you may have to compare old and new versions because agencies do not always include revision dates or effective dates. Even if you do your own legal research to track laws potentially affecting posters (e.g., state minimum wage increases), you still have to check in repeatedly with the issuing agency to get updated postings. In some cases, updated posters are not released for months or even years after a legal change occurs; in other cases, a new mandatory poster is available and must be posted within days of a new law going into effect.
Determine whether posting changes are mandatory.
Whenever you discover a posting change, you must determine if the change is “mandatory” (requiring a new or updated posting) or “non-mandatory” (nice to have, but not legally required). Agencies rarely make this designation for you on their websites, so you may need to investigate by contacting the issuing agency, reviewing agency guidelines or press releases, or conducting additional legal research. This can be especially difficult in light of the confusion surrounding unscrupulous poster companies that market all posting changes as mandatory.
Determine effective date of new posting requirements.
Government websites don’t always indicate when a poster change goes into effect. In some cases, you can find the effective date on the posting itself, but in other cases you must research the underlying posting law to determine the effective date of the law and the posting requirement (which are often two different dates).

Foreign Language Posting Requirements

To date, 23 states and Washington, D.C. require businesses to post certain postings in Spanish. In these states, you’re required to display postings in both English and Spanish, even if you don’t have any Spanish-speaking employees:

District of Columbia
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Puerto Rico
South Carolina
A few states go even further and have requirements for other languages, including Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Mandarin and Creole.

What if you have locations with a significant number of Spanish-speaking employees who aren’t proficient in English? In this case, you need to display the federal combination poster (listing all six required postings) in both English and Spanish.

On a state level, there is no legal requirement to display every poster in both English and Spanish, even if you employ a lot of Spanish-speaking employees.* Nonetheless, you may choose to display all the postings in both languages as a best practice. In case of a dispute, it would be difficult to explain why certain postings were presented in Spanish (federal notices, for example) while others were not. To be safe, if you have Spanish-speaking employees who are not proficient in English, you should display all federal and state posters in both English and Spanish to ensure clear understanding by your entire workforce.

* There is one exception. In Pennsylvania, employers who employ Spanish-speaking employees do have to post all of the state posters in Spanish.

Risk of Lawsuits for Non-Compliance with Posting Requirements

In this time of heightened government enforcement and increased employment lawsuits, it’s never been more important to stay on the right side of labor law compliance. As a responsible employer, this includes displaying the latest federal and state labor law posters – and making sure your posting display sites are complete and up to date.

In the statutes for federal postings, the government is authorized to fine up to $17,000 per location for posting violations. This could be for missed posters or outdated posters. On a state level, the fines are typically between $100 and $1,000 per violation. (A specific fine is attached to each posting, so this varies).

But the real danger with posting violations is related to employee lawsuits and employee disputes.

The connection between posting compliance and employee lawsuits comes into play a few different ways.

Statute of limitations

This can be an employer’s best friend because it’s the defense that allows you to have a claim stricken or dismissed due to a late filing. The statute of limitations, for example, for a federal discrimination claim is 300 days; for a FLSA overtime case it’s two years. Typically, if you get a claim from a former employee or an existing employee for a violation that occurred outside of that time period, you can move to have it dismissed and avoid all the legal fees and potential liability for the alleged violations.

However, let’s say you have a posting violation. In more and more cases, the courts have determined that if employees didn’t have notice of their rights due to a missing poster, the statute of limitations can be extended or tolled – and you can’t use it as a defense. So in a case where normally an old claim would have been dismissed, a court may allow the plaintiff to pursue the claim, leading to a six-figure judgment just because certain posters weren’t on the wall.

This can be a big problem when you have claims for unpaid wages, such as class actions for overtime violations under the FLSA. It’s one thing to restrict an employee’s right to sue within two years, but the statute of limitations also limits how much of a damage award you may incur. With class actions, where you can’t reduce these damages to two years, the numbers could add up quickly just because of a posting violation. Consider the impact of going back a number of years, with a financial hit for every employee in a certain job position that was misclassified, or every hourly employee paid incorrectly for meal breaks.

Evidence of bad faith

Each of the federal employment laws has different standards regarding how good faith or bad faith affects your potential liability. Under Title VII discrimination claims, for example, you can be assessed punitive damages, while under the FMLA and FLSA, you can face double damages (also known as liquidated damages).

The courts look at different factors to determine if a company acted in bad faith or good faith – and posting compliance is part of that review. Also, with the FMLA, recent regulations highlight posting compliance, stating, “Failure to follow the notice requirements … may constitute an interference with, restraint or denial of the exercise of an employee’s FMLA rights.” So neglecting to post the required notices -- if they result in some kind of harm to the employee (for example, not knowing how to request a leave of absence) – could provide an opportunity for the employee to collect various damages. If the employee was terminated, this could mean back pay, front pay and even reinstatement.

First line of defense in potential lawsuits or agency investigations

In any agency investigation, whether an EEOC on-site review, OSHA investigation or claim related to an immigration violation, the investigator typically will use a Field Operations handbook and a checklist as he or she explores the premises. One of the first things the investigator will ask about is your posting display site. If it contains missing, old or ripped posters – or bulletin boards with items covering up the postings – it sets a bad tone for the entire investigation. The investigator may even consider it to be indicative of how you treat your employees in general, or how you regard the issue of workplace compliance.

Keep in mind, too, that in lawsuits, one of the first things a plaintiff’s attorney will ask for in the discovery process is proof of your company’s compliance with posting laws.

Depending on the type of investigation, an auditor may also review your company’s employment handbook, training materials and employee records. To ensure you’re up to date and legally compliant, you should:

Understand the differences between federal and state laws, and follow the specifics
Apply workplace policies (such as granting protected leave or accommodating disabilities) consistently
Make sure all employee documents (such as I-9s and pay records) are complete and filed for the proper amount of time
Conduct a self-audit at least twice a year to verify you’re displaying the latest postings
Explore an annual posting subscription service to receive automatic replacement posters every time a mandatory change occurs
Remember: In any given year, nearly half of all federal and state posting changes are considered mandatory, requiring either new postings or replacement of outdated ones. While staying on top of posting laws can be time-consuming and complex, ignoring them is a risk most businesses cannot afford to take.

Labor Law Compliance Made Easy - Find out which labor law posters are required for your state. Learn More​​​ ​​
Jaime Lizotte
Hosted by Jaime Lizotte,
HR Solutions Manager
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