Fox's War On Regulations Takes On Child Labor, Workplace Safety, Civil Rights Laws

As part of its week-long special targeting government regulations, Fox's “straight news” program, Special Report with Bret Baier, listed “jobs regulations” that supposedly “adversely impact ... small business owners in a real-time way.” However, the regulations listed by Fox include vital statutes that are the bedrock of 20th and 21st Century worker protections in the United States.

Fox News Report Attacks Laws That Supposedly “Adversely Impact ... Small Business Owners In A Real-Time Way”

Fox Report Lists Regulations That Are Supposedly Burdensome To Small Business. From the September 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BRET BAIER (host): We continue our series about excessive regulations, tonight focusing on small business. Chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, reports while the companies may not be large, the rule books they must follow are getting bigger all the time -- James.

JAMES ROSEN (Fox News chief Washington correspondent): Bret, good evening. There are close to 28 million small businesses in the United States, and they employ more than half of all private sector workers. One problem is that as he hires more people, the small business owner will often not know about new regulations he faces until after he's been found in violation of them, or perhaps, even fined.

Businesses with just one employee face right off the bat at least ten federal regulations, including predictable ones like Social Security, but, also, the Polygraph Protection Act. Grow your business to 25 employees and you face all of those plus a whole new wrath of them, including the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act. Surely every pizzeria owner has that memorized. And the list grows like a beanstalk when your company grows to 100 employees.

Last year, we saw a distinct rise in the number of proposed federal rules affecting small business, you can see from 758 to 845. And the smaller a firm is, fewer than 20 employees say, the more expensive it gets per employee to comply with those regulations. Five federal agencies last year proposed 501 of those 845 rules we're talking about, roughly 59 percent of the total.

They are the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. President Obama has pledged to streamline and pare back the U.S. regulatory burden but with limits.

PRESIDENT OBAMA (video clip): I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from short-changing patients.

ROSEN: The head of the nation's oldest small business advocacy group explained to Fox News how regulations adversely impact on small business owners in a real-time way.

TODD MCCRACKEN (president, National Small Business Association) (video clip): Every minute they spend dealing with regulation is a minute they're not spending growing their business, meeting with customers, developing new products, mentoring employees, and all those are the components for getting this economy going again.

ROSEN: In fairness to President Obama, federal regulatory spending has grown steadily since the early 60s with a doubling of those budgets seen even in decades dominated by Republican presidents -- Bret. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/16/11]

Fox Provides Graphic Listing Different Laws That Impact Small Businesses

[Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/16/11]

Fox's Targeted Regulations Include Minimum Wage Laws, Worker Safety Laws, Civil Rights Laws

Fox's List Of Problematic Regulation Includes Many Of The Bedrock Laws Of The 20th Century. The following is a description of each of the laws Special Report included in its graphic describing laws that affect small business.

Fair Labor Standards Act. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets the minimum wage, prohibits child labor, and requires overtime pay for certain people who work more than a certain number of hours each week. The Department of Labor describes the Fair Labor Standards Act as follows:

The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. Covered nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Overtime pay at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek.[Department Of Labor, accessed 9/16/11]

Social Security Act. The Social Security Administration describes the Social Security Act as follows:

An act to provide for the general welfare by establishing a system of Federal old-age benefits, and by enabling the several States to make more adequate provision for aged persons, blind persons, dependent and crippled children, maternal and child welfare, public health, and the administration of their unemployment compensation laws; to establish a Social Security Board; to raise revenue; and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. [Social Security Administration, accessed 9/16/11]

FICA. FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) is the method for funding Social Security and Medicare. It is assessed on both employers and employees. The Social Security Administration describes FICA as follows:

Social Security payroll taxes are collected under the authority of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). The payroll taxes are sometimes even called FICA taxes. But what is FICA? Is it a separate law, apart from the Social Security Act?

In the original 1935 law, the benefit provisions were provided under Title II of the Social Security Act (which is why we sometimes call Social Security the Title II program). The taxing provisions were under a separate title, Title VIII. There is a valid reason for this, which pertains to the constitutionality of the law. As part of the 1939 Amendments, the Title VIII taxing provisions were taken out of the Social Security Act and placed under the Internal Revenue Code. Since it wouldn't make any sense to call this new section of the Internal Revenue Code Title VIII, it was renamed the “Federal Insurance Contributions Act.”

The payroll taxes collected for Social Security are of course taxes, but they can also be described as contributions to the social insurance system that is Social Security. Hence, the name Federal Insurance Contributions Act. So, FICA is nothing more than the tax provisions of the Social Security Act, as they appear in the Internal Revenue Code. [Social Security Administration, accessed 9/16/11]

Medicare. The Social Security Administration describes Medicare as follows:

Medicare is our country's health insurance program for people age 65 or older. Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, too, including those who have disabilities, permanent kidney failure or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). The program helps with the cost of health care, but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care.

Medicare is financed by a portion of the payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers. It also is financed in part by monthly premiums deducted from Social Security checks. [Social Security Administration, accessed 9/16/11]

Military Selective Service Act. From the Military Selective Service Act:

[I]t is the intent of the Congress that whenever Congress shall determine that units and organizations are needed for the national security in excess of those of the Regular components of the Ground Forces and the Air Forces, and those inactive service under this title (sections 451 to 471a of this Appendix), the National Guard of the United States, both Ground and Air, or such part thereof as may be-2-necessary, together with such units of the Reserve components as are necessary for a balanced force, shall be ordered to active Federal service and continued therein so long as such necessity exists.[The Military Selective Service Act, accessed 9/16/11, via The Selective Services System]

Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women receive equal pay for equal work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes the Equal Pay Act as follows:

The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Job content (not job titles) determines whether jobs are substantially equal. All forms of pay are covered by this law, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits. If there is an inequality in wages between men and women, employers may not reduce the wages of either sex to equalize their pay. [U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accessed 9/16/11]

Immigration Reform Act. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency describes the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 as follows:

Public Law 99-603 (Act of 11/6/86), which was passed in order to control and deter illegal immigration to the United States. Its major provisions stipulate legalization of undocumented aliens who had been continuously unlawfully present since 1982, legalization of certain agricultural workers, sanctions for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers, and increased enforcement at U.S. borders.[U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, accessed 9/16/11]

Federal Unemployment Tax Act. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act is the law that set up unemployment insurance. The IRS describes the Federal Unemployment Tax Act as follows:

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), with state unemployment systems, provides for payments of unemployment compensation to workers who have lost their jobs. Most employers pay both a Federal and a state unemployment tax. A list of state unemployment tax agencies, including addresses and phone numbers, is available in Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide. Only the employer pays FUTA tax; it is not deducted from the employee's wages.[IRS, accessed 9/16/11]

Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act was passed to set minimum standards for pensions and health insurance plans offered by employers. The Department of Labor describes the Employee Retirement Income Security Act as follows:

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans.

ERISA requires plans to provide participants with plan information including important information about plan features and funding; provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty. [Department Of Labor, accessed 9/16/11]

Occupational Safety And Health Act. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) mandates safe workplaces. OSHA describes its purposes as follows:

To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health; and for other purposes. [Department Of Labor, accessed 9/16/11]

Polygraph Protection Act. The Polygraph Protection Act limits the ability of employers to use polygraphs. The Department of Labor describes the law as follows:

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) generally prevents employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment, with certain exemptions. Employers generally may not require or request any employee or job applicant to take a lie detector test, or discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee or job applicant for refusing to take a test or for exercising other rights under the Act. In addition, employers are required to display the EPPA poster in the workplace for their employees. [Department Of Labor, accessed 9/16/11]

Civil Rights Act Title VII. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. From the law:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. [Civil Rights Act of 1964, accessed 9/16/11, via Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]

Americans With Disabilities Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act bars discrimination against people with disabilities and requires public facilities to provide access to people with disabilities. From the Americans with Disabilities Act:

It is the purpose of this chapter

(1) to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities;

(2) to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities;

(3) to ensure that the Federal Government plays a central role in enforcing the standards established in this chapter on behalf of individuals with disabilities; and

(4) to invoke the sweep of congressional authority, including the power to enforce the fourteenth amendment and to regulate commerce, in order to address the major areas of discrimination faced day-to-day by people with disabilities.[Americans With Disabilities Act, accessed 9/16/11]

Age Discrimination Act. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from discriminating against people on the basis of age. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes the Age Discrimination in Employment Act as follows:

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA's protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. The ADEA permits employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older.

It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on age or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA.[Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accessed 9/16/11]

Older Worker Benefit Protection Act. The Older Worker Benefit Protection Act was passed to overturn a Supreme Court decision limiting the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. From the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

The Congress finds that, as a result of the decision of the Supreme Court in Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio v. Betts, 109 S.Ct. 256 (1989), legislative action is necessary to restore the original congressional intent in passing and amending the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 621 et seq.), which was to prohibit discrimination against older workers in all employee benefits except when age-based reductions in employee benefit plans are justified by significant cost considerations. [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accessed 9/16/11]

COBRA. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act requires employer-sponsored group-health plans to cover people who lose their health benefits for a limited time if the employee pays the full premium for coverage. From the Department of Labor:

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.

COBRA generally requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end.

COBRA outlines how employees and family members may elect continuation coverage. It also requires employers and plans to provide notice. [Department Of Labor, accessed 9/16/11]

Health Maintenance Organization Act. The Social Security Administration describes the Health Maintenance Organization Act as follows:

The Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-222), signed by President Nixon on December 29, 1973, is the first major health legislation enacted by the 93d Congress. The new measure “commits' the Federal Government to a limited, trial-period support of the development of health maintenance organizations (HMO's). Its major purpose is to stimulate interest by consumers and providers in the HMO concept and to make health care delivery under this form available and accessible in the health care market.[Social Security Administration, accessed 9/16/11]

Veterans Reemployment Act. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) gives people who leave their job in order to serve in the uniformed services some rights upon their return to the civilian workforce. From the Department of Labor:

The law is intended to encourage non-career uniformed service so that America can enjoy the protection of those services, staffed by qualified people, while maintaining a balance with the needs of private and public employers who also depend on these same individuals.

Employers are required to provide to persons entitled to the rights and benefits under USERRA, a notice of the rights, benefits and obligations of such persons and such employers under USERRA. Employers may provide the notice, “Your Rights Under USERRA”, by posting it where employee notices are customarily placed. However, employers are free to provide the notice to employees in other ways that will minimize costs while ensuring that the full text of the notice is provided (e.g., by handing or mailing out the notice, or distributing the notice via electronic mail). [Department Of Labor, accessed 9/16/11]

Family And Medical Leave Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires certain businesses to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, for personal health issues, or for the health issues of a family member. From the Depatment of Labor:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.

FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women. [Department Of Labor, accessed 9/16/11]

WARN Act. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) requires certain business to provide notice to employees before engaging in mass layoffs. From the Department of Labor:

WARN offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union); to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government. [Department Of Labor, accessed 9/16/11]

Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 describes its purposes as follows:

To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes. [U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accessed 9/16/11]