The field of human resources management is greatly influenced and shaped by state and federal employment legislation. Indeed, regulations and laws govern all aspects of human resource management, including recruitment, placement, development, and compensation areas.

The most important piece of HRM legislation, which affects all of the functional areas, is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent amendments, including the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These acts made illegal the discrimination against employees or potential recruits for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It forces employers to follow—and often document—fairness practices related to hiring, training, pay, benefits, and virtually all other activities and responsibilities related to HRM. The 1964 act established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the act, and provides for civil penalties in the event of discrimination. The net result of the all-encompassing civil rights acts is that businesses must carefully design and document numerous procedures to ensure compliance, or face potentially significant penalties. Another important piece of legislation that complements the civil rights laws discussed above is the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This act forbids wage or salary discrimination based on sex, and mandates equal pay for equal work with few exceptions. Subsequent court rulings augmented the act by promoting the concept of comparable worth, or equal pay for unequal jobs of equal value or worth.

Other important laws that govern significant aspects of human resource management include the following:

Other important laws related to human resource management include the Social Security Act of 1935, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, and the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959.


Armstrong, Michael. Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. Kogan Page, 1999.

Roberts, Gary, Gary Seldon, and Carlotta Roberts. Human Resources Management. Washington, D.C.: Small Business Administration, n.a.

Rossiter, Jill A. Human Resources: Mastering Your Small Business. Upstart Publishing, 1996.

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