3 Workplace Laws Every Employer Must Know

Not knowing the law regarding the workplace can get you in a lot of trouble.  Here are three laws you better know:

  1. Employee or independent contractor? Labeling an employee an independent contractor can be a costly mistake, so it would behoove you to know the difference between the two. While the resources above can help with that, understand that the general rule is that an independent contractor is called that for a reason – he of she must truly be independent.

Independent contractors:

  • Set their own pay
  • Make their own schedule
  • Decide when and where to work
  • May work for several businesses
  • Are truly independent
  1. Overtime or not? Another issue that can easily trip up an employer is whether or not a certain employee should be paid for overtime.  Essentially, hourly employees are entitled to overtime, whereas exempt employees are not.

An exempt employee typically holds managerial, executive, administrative, professional or outside sales positions. They usually get a salary in weekly, bi-weekly or monthly payments.  Check with your CPA or attorney regarding your specific situation.

  1. No discrimination: The basic rule is this: When hiring, promoting, or firing, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Therefore, even when interviewing people for a job, questions that touch on those subjects should be avoided, as the answers should be irrelevant to your hiring decision.

Bottom line: Knowing what is and is not legally expected of you, and how to protect yourself, is critical.

© 2016 The Strauss Group, Inc.


Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is the senior small business columnist at USA TODAY, the Editor-in-Chief here at Small Business Connection, a speaker and spokesperson. He can be reached at

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