Labor and Employment Law Overview: Louisiana

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • A Louisiana employer is prohibited from discriminating against employees based on a variety of factors. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Louisiana employers must follow Louisiana law addressing criminal history background checks and drug testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • Louisiana specifies permissible occupations, working hours and breaks for minors. See Wage and Hour.
  • Louisiana has its own mini-COBRA law. See Pay and Benefits.
  • A Louisiana employer is required to provide leaves of absence in addition to those required by federal law, such as for pregnancy, to attend school activities or to donate bone marrow. See Attendance and Leave.
  • A Louisiana employer is prohibited from discriminating against employees because they are smokers. See Health and Safety.
  • Postemployment restrictions may be enforceable in Louisiana under certain circumstances. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Louisiana

Louisiana is in the middle of the road when it comes to being either employer- or employee-friendly. Some state laws broaden an employee's rights; others are more restrictive than federal law.

Select Louisiana employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Louisiana requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law

The Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (LEDL) applies to an employer with 20 or more employees and prohibits an employer from discriminating in employment based on the following characteristics:

  • Age (40 or over);
  • Disability;
  • Race;
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions (employers with 26 or more employees);
  • Sickle cell trait; and
  • Genetic information.

Political Activity Discrimination

Under state law, an employer with 20 of more employees is prohibited from:

  • Forbidding or preventing any of its employees from running for public office or exercising other political rights; and
  • Terminating employees because of their political opinions.

Discrimination Against Military Service Members

Louisiana law prohibits discrimination in employment against members of the US military, reserves, National Guard, Public Health Service commissioned corps or any other state military force.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Louisiana can be found in the Louisiana Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Discrimination: Louisiana, Employee Discipline: Louisiana, Louisiana Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Louisiana? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Discrimination: Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Louisiana requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Background Checks

In Louisiana, an employer may not disqualify an individual or hold an individual ineligible to engage in a trade, occupation or profession for which a state-issued license, permit or certificate is required solely because of a prior criminal record, unless:

  • The individual has been convicted of a felony; and
  • The conviction directly relates to the position of employment sought or the specific occupation, trade or profession for which the license, permit or certificate is sought.

There are some exceptions to this, e.g., law enforcement positions and medical professionals.

Absent an obligation to investigate further (e.g., a law that requires mandatory criminal background checks), an employer may rely on the reference information it receives from an applicant's employer or former employer and will be immune from liability resulting from negligent hiring or negligent retention claims based on that information.

Drug Testing

Under Louisiana law, an employer may test employees for drug use, as long as:

  • Testing complies with the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs;
  • Employees with confirmed positive test results may request in writing a copy of the test results;
  • The employer complies with an employee's written request for a copy of confirmed positive test results within seven days;
  • Collected samples are not used for DNA testing; and
  • Information received as a result of an employer's drug testing is kept confidential.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Louisiana can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Louisiana and Performance Appraisals: Louisiana. Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal and Performance Appraisals: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Child labor laws in Louisiana restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

All minors are prohibited from working in a number of hazardous occupations such as mine or quarry work or positions in iron or steel manufacturing plants. In addition to specified restricted occupations, the Louisiana Workforce Commission may determine, after a public hearing, that other employment is injurious to the life, health, safety or welfare of a minor and is prohibited.

Minors who are 15 years of age and younger have additional restrictions, and may not work in specified occupations such as in a poolroom or billiard room, manufacturing or processing, or distribution or delivery of goods or messages. Minors 15 years of age and younger also may not be employed, trained or exhibited for certain performance-related employment, e.g., as a gymnast or stunt rider, or in any indecent exhibition.

If the work meets all the protections offered to minors 14 and 15 years of age, minors under the age of 14 may work, but only if:

  • The minor is at least 12;
  • The parent or guardian of the child is an owner of the business offering employment;
  • The parent or guardian will provide direct supervision; and
  • The minor obtains an employment certificate.

Minors under the age of 16 - regardless of whether they have graduated from high school - may not work more than:

  • Eight hours per day;
  • Six consecutive days in one week;
  • Three hours each day on any day when school is in session; or
  • 18 hours in any week when school is in session.

Minors under the age of 16 who have not graduated from high school may work the following hours:

  • Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. (with an exception for minors employed in the dairy industry);
  • Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day (with an exception for minors employed in the dairy industry); and
  • Up to 40 hours per week.

Sixteen-year-olds who have not graduated from high school may not work between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. prior to the start of a school day. Seventeen-year-olds who have not graduated from high school may not work between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. prior to the start of a school day.

In addition, an employer must give every minor who works for any five-hour period at least one 30-minute meal break, which is not included as part of the working hours of the day.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Louisiana can be found in the Louisiana Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Child Labor: Louisiana and Louisiana Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters. Federal requirements can be found in Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Under Louisiana's mini-COBRA law, group health policies issued to an employer with two to 19 employees generally must include continuation coverage. Continuation coverage must be extended to employees and their covered dependents whose coverage terminates, if the employees and their covered dependents have been continuously covered under the policy for at least three months before coverage ended.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Louisiana can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Louisiana. Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Key Louisiana requirements impacting attendance and leave are:

Pregnancy Disability Leave

A Louisiana employer with 25 or more employees must allow eligible employees to take unpaid pregnancy leave for a reasonable period of time. For most pregnancies, employees may take up to six weeks of leave, but for disabling pregnancies, employees may take up to four months.

Other Leave Laws Affecting Louisiana Employers

In addition to providing pregnancy leave, a Louisiana employer is also required to comply with other leave laws, such as:

  • Military leave;
  • Veterans' leave to attend medical appointments (covering employers with 20 or more employees);
  • School activities leave;
  • Volunteer emergency responder leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Bone marrow donation leave (covering employers with 20 or more employees); and
  • Voting leave (covering employers with 20 or more employees).

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Louisiana can be found in the Louisiana Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Louisiana, Other Leaves: Louisiana, Jury Duty: Louisiana, USERRA: Louisiana and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Louisiana? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

An employer is prohibited from discriminating against employees because they are smokers (or nonsmokers). In addition, an employer may not require, as a condition of employment, that a person abstain from smoking or using tobacco products outside the course and scope of employment.

An employer is, however, permitted to adopt policies regulating an employee's use of tobacco products within the workplace and is allowed to take actions necessary to enforce those policies.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Louisiana can be found in the Louisiana Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: Louisiana and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Louisiana? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Louisiana requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Paycheck

Whether an employee was terminated voluntarily or involuntarily, he or she must be paid all wages by the earlier of:

  • The next regularly scheduled payday; or
  • Within 15 days of the date of termination.

The final check should include payment for any accrued, but unused, vacation days unless the employer has a stated "use it or lose it" policy.

References

Louisiana has a job reference immunity statute. Under the statute, an employer that provides references related to former or current employees' job performance or reasons for separation are presumed to have done so in good faith and will be immune from civil liability. An employer will not be immune from civil liability if it knowingly provided false information or deliberately provided misleading information.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Louisiana can be found in Payment of Wages: Louisiana, Employee Communications: Louisiana and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Louisiana? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.