View the following presentation on the layers of employee rights in the U.S. to understand how different agencies have an impact on employer and employee rights and responsibilities. While the layers may be different in different countries, many of the same concepts can be applied in countries outside the U.S.
Employees have been granted rights by federal, state, and local legislation, through decisions in court cases, and legal agreements such as union contracts and in company policies. How do all of these agencies and the rights they have conferred interact?
The most basic level of employee rights is provided by federal law. These can only be changed by Congress passing a new law or by an old law being overturned as unconstitutional.
States cannot take a way any rights granted by federal law-but they can add more rights. Similarly, localities can't take away any right granted by federal or state law, but they can extend new rights. Court cases can result in new interpretations of laws or-at the state and local levels-new theories about the meanings of laws. Companies, individuals or groups of individuals, such as unions, can all enter into legal agreements or contracts. These too cannot abridge any rights granted by laws. In practice, they have to be consistent with the interpretation of court cases as well, or they'll easily be overturned by any legal challenge.
Finally, company policies and procedures can grant still more rights. But unless there is legal justification for construing them as an implied, companies can change or even ignore these without legal consequences.