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On Labor Day, Knowing How the Law Has Grown to Protect Workers

The first Labor Day took place on September 5, 1882, as a creation of the labor movement. In this video, which I recorded when I was Editor-in-Chief of, it's good to remember how the law has grown since then to protect 140 million people in today's work force.

People worked up to 16 hour days, seven days a week in dangerous conditions during the Industrial Revolution – and they had virtually no legal rights. The word “weekend” didn't exist until the 1870s.

Today, three key laws protect American workers:

1. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – the EEOC – enforces several statues. The agency protects against workplace discrimination based on retaliation, race, sex and other kinds of discrimination.

2. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take up to one year off from work to care for a newborn child or a member of the family who is sick.

3. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) ensures the integrity of 700,000 retirement plans and more than 2 million health plans. The law requires employers to report the status of the plans so that they are there for workers when they retire or become ill.

We honor and celebrate with you this Labor Day.

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