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Louisiana has employment and labor laws in place to try to ensure a fair working relationship between employers and employees. Employment law covers wages, hours, retaliation, workplace discrimination, and hiring practices. Labor law focuses on issues related to union dues, union membership, and collective bargaining agreements. 

Work is an important part of a person's life, as it helps people pay for essential living expenses and pursue their interests. Therefore, employees must understand their rights as workers to prevent being paid unfair wages or terminated illegally. Knowing employment and labor laws allows employees in Louisiana to take legal action if their rights are violated and helps ensure a fair working relationship between employers and employees.

Louisiana Wage and Hour Laws

Minimum Wage

Louisiana has no state-imposed minimum wage rate. It is among the five remaining states in the country that have not established a minimum wage rate, the others being Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Instead, Louisiana employers are required to follow the federal minimum wage law, which means employees are entitled to at least $7.25 per hour, which has remained unchanged since July 24, 2009.

For tipped employees or individuals in an occupation that regularly receive over $30 a month in tips, the federal minimum wage of $2.13 applies. 

Because there is no minimum wage established in Louisiana, the state implements the subminimum wage of $4.25 set by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers in the state may pay the subminimum wage to trainees, apprentices, learners, employees with disabilities, and student workers. 

Wage Payment

Employers in Louisiana are required to pay their employees at least twice a month on regularly scheduled paydays if the business operates in the mining, manufacturing, public service, and oil and gas industries. 

If an employer from the mentioned industries has not chosen a date for the payments, they must pay their workers on the 1st and 16th of each month by default. Employers will face penalties if they fail to provide income to their employees on time. 

Public service corporations have 15 days before the end of the pay period to pay their workers. In contrast, employers in the mining, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries have 10 days before the end of the pay period. 

No specific law is in place for other industries in Louisiana on the frequency of wage payments. This means that the business may, on its own, establish the pay periods for its workers. 

There is also no Louisiana law on how employers in the state must pay their workers. 

Payment upon Separation from Employment

Louisiana Statute 23:631 provides that employees who have resigned are entitled to receive the wages due by the regular payday on which they would have been paid if they had remained under the employ of the business or no later than 15 days after the resignation, whichever happens first. 

Employers are required to pay an employee in the same manner if the employee resigns because of a labor dispute. 

If there is a wage dispute, the employer must provide timely payment for the undisputed portion of the amount due, while the employee has the right to take legal action for their wage claim. 

Deductions from Wages

Louisiana employers are not allowed to fine a worker or deduct fines from an employee’s wages unless the employee pleads guilty or is convicted of theft of the employer’s funds, has negligently or knowingly caused damage to the employer’s property, or has intentionally or carelessly damaged goods. The fines for such damages must not exceed the value of the actual damage that the employee has caused. 

Wage Notice Requirements

Businesses in Louisiana are required to inform their employees of the wages they will be paid, the frequency of payment, and the method by which they will be paid at the time of hire. The employer must also provide notice to the workers if there will be changes to their wage or method of payment before the modifications are implemented. 

Overtime Laws

Louisiana does not have specific laws regarding overtime, which means the state adheres to the federal overtime laws. Employers are required to compensate their employees at a rate of at least 1.5 times their regular rate for every hour they work over their standard shift. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, there is no limit on the number of hours an employee may work in a workweek as long as they are at least 16 years old. 

Some workers are exempted from the overtime laws, such as outside sales employees, professional employees, executive and administrative employees who make at least $684 per week, and employees who make over $107,432 a year. 

Louisiana Leave Laws

Sick Leave

Employers in Louisiana are not required to provide paid sick leave to their employees. However, they may be required to grant their workers unpaid sick leave if the situation is in accordance with federal laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act. For example, FMLA-eligible employees may take unpaid leave for up to 12 workweeks to get medical attention for a serious health condition, to take care of an immediate family member, or to give birth and take care of their child.

Vacation Leave

Businesses in Louisiana are not required to provide employees with unpaid or paid vacation benefits. If the company decides to offer vacation benefits, it must be stated on the employment contract. 

Employers are allowed to establish a use-it-or-lose-it policy on their workers’ vacation time. Employees must use their leave within a set period or forfeit it. If no such policy is established, employees may receive payment for unused leaves if they have accrued vacation time and are eligible to use it at discharge or resignation. 

Holiday Leave

Private employers in Louisiana may require employees to report to work during holidays. They are not obligated to pay their employees a higher rate if they work on a holiday unless that working period falls under overtime laws. 

Bereavement and Voting Leave

The state of Louisiana does not require employers to grant unpaid or paid leave to employees who will either vote or attend funerals. 

Jury Duty Leave

Employees in Louisiana are entitled to a day’s worth of wages for taking jury duty leave. Employers in the state are not allowed to take adverse employment action against a worker who was called to serve jury duty if the employee was able to provide reasonable notice of their obligation. 

Employers that discharge their employees for serving jury duty may face fines of at least $100 but not more than $1,000. They may also be ordered to reinstate the worker with the same benefits as before the discharge and pay the employee one day’s wages without reducing their leave. 

Military Leave

According to La. R.S. § 29:406, employees in Louisiana are allowed military leave if they are called to military service. Workers must provide their employers with an advance verbal or written notice to be entitled to reemployment. Giving notice to an employer is not required if the circumstances make it impossible or unreasonable.

If the military service is intermittent, the leave may also be intermittent. 

The employee is required to provide a verbal or written notice of intent to return to be able to return to their job after their military service period ends. 

Employment Discrimination Law in Louisiana

Louisiana has laws that are specific to hiring new workers. It is against the law to refuse an applicant based on their sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, pregnancy, or physical or mental disability. It is also illegal to refuse to hire a person based on their age, according to La. R.S. § 23:312

There are also hiring laws in Louisiana that go against:

  • Discriminating against people with a handicap or perceived handicap.

  • Keeping or disclosing information about employee disability.

  • Refusing to hire an applicant because of their political affiliation or beliefs. 

Other Employer Obligations

Other requirements that Louisiana employers must comply with include the following: 

  • Providing health coverage for an employee’s surviving spouse who is 50 years old or older. 

  • Paying for fingerprinting and other types of medical examinations that are considered a condition for employment.

  • Providing employee group health coverage if the establishment has fewer than 20 employees. 

  • Posting notices on labor laws in a highly visible area inside the working premises. 

Louisiana Right-to-Work Laws

Louisiana is a right-to-work state, which means no worker is required to become a member of a labor union or pay fees associated with a labor organization as a condition of employment. 

According to La. R.S. § 23:981, every individual in the state has the right to join, form, and assist labor organizations without fear of penalty or reprisal. They are also allowed to refrain from participating in labor union activities without being penalized. 

A labor organization in Louisiana is classified as any organization that exists to deal with employers regarding wages, hours of work, rates of pay, and other conditions of employment. 

People who either directly or indirectly violate the state’s right-to-work laws may be guilty of a misdemeanor and could be imprisoned for up to 90 days. They may also be subject to a maximum fine of $1,000.

Minimum Working Age

Under La. R.S. § 23:162, it is illegal in the state of Louisiana for minors under the age of 12 to work in any occupation. Minors less than 14 years old are allowed to be employed if their parent or legal guardian is a partner or the owner of the establishment they will be working in. They are also only allowed to work under the direct supervision of their legal guardian or parent. 

According to La. Rev. Stat. §§ 23:161, minors are not allowed to work in certain occupations that involve the following:

  • Stone polishing or cutting

  • Machine oiling, wiping, and cleaning

  • Quarrying or mining

  • Stock milling or saw milling

  • Logging

  • Steel or iron manufacturing

  • Spray painting

  • Occupations that involve exposure to lead or its compounds. 

Employers could receive penalties or jail time if they do not follow the rules and regulations for employing minors. They could face fines that amount to at least $100 but not more than $500. Employers that violate the Louisiana minor labor law may also be imprisoned for at least 30 days but not more than six months. 

Is Louisiana an At-Will Employment State?

The state of Louisiana practices the employment-at-will principle, which means either the employer or the employee can terminate the working relationship at any time, with or without notice, and with or without cause. However, there are conditions in which an employer may potentially violate labor laws if they decide to terminate an employee’s contract. 

An employer is typically not allowed to terminate a contract of employment if the employee is a union member with a collective-bargaining agreement or if the employee’s time at the company is specified in the employment contract. 

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination in Louisiana?

Ending an employment contract in Louisiana is considered wrongful termination if the employer fires the employee because of their religion, age, gender, race, or membership in a protected class. The state also prohibits the discharge of an employee if the reason involves retaliation for:

  • The employee’s political affiliation or opinions

  • The employee disclosing or threatening to disclose an employment practice violation

  • The employee’s testimony for a labor investigation

  • The employee’s membership in a uniformed service. 

Other exceptions to the employment-at-will principle because they constitute wrongful termination include firing a worker for:

  • Filing claims for compensation

  • Exercising statutory rights

  • Taking jury duty leave

  • Filing claims regarding environmental violations.

How Do You Report an Employer in Louisiana for Wrongful Termination?

If an individual in Louisiana suspects that they have been wrongfully terminated, it is advisable that they consult with an experienced lawyer about a potential case. The faster the person acts, the better chances their claim will have. 

Several laws are in place to protect employees from job termination, despite Louisiana being an employment-at-will state. If the reason for the termination involves discrimination or retaliation, the individual may have a wrongful termination claim. 

To start a wrongful termination lawsuit, the person must file a complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights. Complainants may submit a claim by phone at (225) 342-6969 or by mail to the Office of the Governor, Louisiana Commission on Human Rights, P.O. Box 94094, Baton Rouge, LA 70804. They may also submit a claim in person at 1001 N. 23rd Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, or online

In most cases, filing a complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights will also reach the agency that enforces federal antidiscrimination laws, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the case does not reach the EEOC, the complainant may file a complaint with the agency directly, either in person or by mail, at the Hale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, Suite 800, New Orleans, LA 70113. They may also call the EEOC’s Louisiana office at 1-800-669-4000. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Cases in Louisiana?

The deadline for filing a wrongful termination case in Louisiana, also known as the statute of limitations, varies by the type of claim. 

If wrongful termination occurs due to a contractual breach, Louisiana residents have 10 years to file a claim, regardless of whether the contract is written or oral.

If the dismissal is discriminatory, the employee has 180 days under federal law to file a complaint with the EEOC and 300 days if Louisiana law forbids discrimination.

For tort claims, the individuals will have one year to file a complaint for their wrongful termination.

How Much Can Someone Sue an Employer in Louisiana for Wrongful Termination?

In Louisiana, an average wrongful termination settlement can be between $5,000 and $90,000, while a typical court or jury award ranges from $90,000 to $300,000. The lower amount is why employers prefer an out-of-court settlement to a trial. 

The amount of money a wrongful termination claimant in Louisiana could receive is based on factors such as emotional distress, benefits lost, medical costs, lost wages, and reason for termination. The costs of finding a new job could also be a factor in the settlement. 

Resources for Employees in Louisiana

Since Louisiana is an at-will employment state, it may not be easy for dismissed employees to determine whether they can file a wrongful termination case against their employer. For employees who are fired for unlawful reasons, the following legal resources can help them decide the appropriate course of action to hold their employers accountable for wrongful termination.

U.S. Department of Labor Wages and Hour Division

The U.S. Department of Labor website has a page that explains the Wages and Fair Labor Standards Act. This can be useful for Louisiana residents because the state does not have many state-specific laws on wages. The page provides information on the federal minimum wage established and how overtime pay is determined. 

Louisiana Law Help

Louisiana Law Help provides legal education resources to help Louisiana residents with law-related matters. It offers basic information on various legal topics, including work and employment law, disaster relief, family law, and consumer issues. Individuals can also use the website to apply for legal help from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services or Acadiana Legal Service Corporation

Employment Law Handbook

The Employment Law Handbook helps employers and employees find information on state and federal laws. It covers several areas of employment law, including discrimination, wage payment, and workplace safety. It also has a page dedicated to employment and labor laws relevant to Louisiana-based workers.

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