Glossary of Employment Terms
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ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). A set of laws protecting persons with disabilities from discrimination in employment, education and access to public facilities.

ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act). A federal law that protects older employees from employment discrimination on the basis of age.

At-Will Employment A type of employment relationship in which there is no contractual agreement and either party may end the employment relationship at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all, without incurring a penalty.

COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. A federal law that requires employers to allow employees to continue their health insurance coverage after termination, in the same insurance group, at the group rate, and providing the same benefits.

Constructive Discharge A type of termination of the employment relationship in which the employee quits but the employer is liable as it would be for a wrongful termination because the employee was forced to resign due to intolerable working conditions.

EAP (Employee Assistance Program). A workplace program provided by the employer to assist employees in recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, emotional problems, job stress, marital discord, or workplace conflict.

EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). The federal administrative agency that enforces laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.

FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). The federal law that requires certain employers to give time off to employees to take care of their own or a family member's illness.

Garnishment of Wages An order seizing part of an employee's wages for child support or other purpose.

Hostile Working Environment A work environment so imbued with unwanted behavior that it interferes with the ability to do one's job and violated anti-discrimination laws.

Implied Contract A type of enforceable contract that is implied from the circumstances or the parties' conduct.

Noncompete Agreement A contract or part of a contract in which an employee promises not to work for a competing employer or to set up a competing business during or for a period of time after termination of employment.

OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration). The federal agency charged with creating and enforcing workplace health and safety standards.

Quid pro quo A Latin phrase meaning "something for something"--a type of sexual harassment in which the harasser asks for a sexual favor in return for providing an employment benefit, such as a raise, continued employment, or other favorable treatment.

Sexual harassment Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical acts of a sexual or sex-based nature when (i) submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or a condition of employment; (ii) employment decisions are based on acceptance or rejection of such conduct; or (iii) conduct which interferes with work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

Title VII Part of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of age, color, national origin, race, religion, or sex.

Whistleblower An employee who reports to the authorities an employer's illegal action or practice. Employees are generally protected from discrimination or retaliation for blowing the whistle on illegal acts.

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