Your business is booming.  In three short years, you’ve grown from a solo landscape and lawn treatment service in a home office to a full-blown professional suite with an office manager, administrator and a team of professionals who work all over the city.  With three new hires this week, you’ve reached 16 employees.  Congratulations!

Did you know that when you cross the threshold to 15 employees, certain federal laws apply to your business?  From our HR Support Center, here is a brief summary of what you need to know about them:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Protects qualified individuals with disabilities from unlawful employment discrimination, prohibits discrimination where an individual is able to perform their essential job functions, and requires an employer to make reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals unless doing so would place an undue hardship on the employer.
  • Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA): Prohibits the use of genetic information in employment and restricts employers from requesting or requiring genetic information.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA): Protects pregnant employees from being retaliated against in any way due to pregnancy, child birth, or any related medical conditions.
  • Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act: Prohibits discrimination in all terms and conditions of employment (including pay and benefits) on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.  Note that several federal courts have ruled that sex includes sexual orientation, and one has ruled that it includes gender identity as well.

Additionally, there may be state laws that apply as your company grows.  Penalties for violations of these statutes can be costly.  For example, fines can run as high as $75,000 for the first violation and $150,000 for subsequent violations of the ADA.

You can get a complete list of the different federal and state laws that may apply based on your location and employee count by subscribing to HR Support Center.   So even if you’re not in the landscaping business, you can nip those fines in the bud and potentially trim your legal expenses back as well!

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