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

  • Louisiana law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees based in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also allow employees to access records related to exposure to toxins. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Louisiana permits preemployment criminal checks and drug testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Louisiana, there are requirements relating to child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Louisiana has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including pay frequency, wage deductions and health care continuation requirements. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Louisiana law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including pregnancy disability leave, veterans' medical appointment leave, school and day care conference and activities leave, emergency responder leave and bone marrow donation leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Louisiana prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving, but allows guns in parking lots. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Louisiana employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Louisiana

Louisiana has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers and bone marrow donation leave, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as the minimum wage, overtime and occupational safety and health.

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:

Fair Employment Practices

The Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (LEDL) prohibits an employer with 20 or more employees from discriminating on the basis of protected characteristics, including:

  • Age (40 or over);
  • Disability;
  • Race;
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Sickle cell trait; and
  • Genetic information.

The LEDL also prohibits an employer with 26 or more employees from discriminating on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.

Access to Personnel Files

Current and former employees have a right to access personnel records related to the employee's exposure to potential toxins.

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 - Harassment: Louisiana, EEO Retaliation: Louisiana, Disabilities (ADA): Louisiana, HR Management: 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 EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal, Disabilities (ADA): Federal and HR Management: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Louisiana requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Criminal Checks

In Louisiana, an employer generally 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.

Drug Testing

Under Louisiana law, drug testing of Louisiana residents and of samples collected in Louisiana must be performed in line with the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. In addition to specifying collection and testing procedures designed to ensure accurate and unadulterated testing, Louisiana law sets forth the requirements for reviewing and interpreting positive test results.

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 Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Louisiana? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: 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.

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 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:

  • Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day); 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, Louisiana Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Louisiana? Federal requirements can be found in Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Louisiana requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Pay Frequency

All employers are required to inform employees at the time they are hired how frequently they will be paid. An employer that fails to designate paydays must pay employees on the first and sixteenth days of the month or as near to those dates as possible. Exceptions apply.

Wage Deductions

An employer may make deductions for:

  • An employee's willful or negligent damage to employer goods, works or property; and
  • The amount of actual damage when an employee is convicted of, or has pled guilty to, stealing employer funds.

Health Care Continuation

Louisiana's health care continuation law applies to employers not covered by federal COBRA. Group health policies issued to a covered employer must include continuation coverage for employees and their covered dependents whose coverage terminates as a result of a termination of employment, divorce, the employee's death or termination of membership in the group policy. Continuation coverage generally lasts for up to 12 months, but may be longer for a surviving spouse.

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 Payment of Wages: Louisiana, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Louisiana, Louisiana Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Louisiana? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Louisiana has several laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees. These laws include:

  • Pregnancy disability leave (covering employers with 26 or more employees);
  • Military leave;
  • Veterans' medical appointment leave (covering employers with 20 or more employees);
  • School and day care conference and activities leave;
  • Emergency responder leave;
  • Jury duty leave; and
  • Bone marrow donation 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 time off and leaves of absence practices in Louisiana can be found in the Louisiana Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Louisiana, Other Leaves: Louisiana, Jury Duty: Louisiana, USERRA: Louisiana, Louisiana Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters 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

Key Louisiana requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

The Louisiana Smokefree Air Act prohibits smoking in the majority of all public places, as well as in any enclosed area of employment. An employer is not required to make accommodations for smokers or to provide designated smoking areas for workers. An employer should post signage indicating the facility is smoke-free.

Safe Driving Practices

Louisiana prohibits texting while driving.

Weapons in the Workplace

Louisiana generally allows guns to be stored or transported in locked private vehicles, even if the vehicle is parked on workplace property. However, an employer may limit or restrict guns in the workplace.

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, HR and Workplace Safety: Louisiana, Workplace Security: Louisiana and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Louisiana? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal, HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Louisiana requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

An employee who voluntarily resigns or is involuntarily terminated from employment must be paid by the next regular payday or 15 days after the date of separation, whichever occurs first.

The final check should include payment for any accrued, but unused, vacation days if the employer has a policy that provides for such payment.

An employer may pay all wages owed a deceased employee to the surviving spouse, provided that divorce proceeding have not been instituted, or an adult child, in that order. The person requesting the payment must first sign a document before two witnesses indicating his or her relationship to the deceased.

References

An employer may disclose accurate information regarding an employee's job performance and reasons for separation from employment to a prospective employer or a current or former employee. However, an employer may be liable for disclosing information that was knowingly false and deliberately misleading.

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.