What are the employment law issues founders face, and should I classify people as contractors?

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As start-ups grow and expand, they may need to hire additional personnel to help achieve their goals. However, there are important employment law considerations that start-up founders must take into account when making hiring decisions, including the choice of whether to classify contributors as employees or independent contractors. In this blog post, we will discuss key employment law considerations for start-ups, including the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors.

Classification of Workers

One of the most important employment law considerations for start-ups is the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors. The classification of workers can have significant legal and financial implications for start-ups, as different rules and regulations apply to each category.

Employees are generally entitled to certain legal protections, including minimum wage and overtime requirements, workers’ compensation insurance, and unemployment insurance. Independent contractors, on the other hand, are generally considered self-employed and are responsible for paying their own taxes and obtaining their own insurance.

It is important for start-up founders to carefully consider the nature of the work being performed, the degree of control they have over the worker, and the worker’s level of independence when determining whether to classify them as an employee or independent contractor. Improper classification can result in significant legal and financial penalties for start-ups, so it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies

Another important consideration for start-ups is the implementation of non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. These policies should be included in the employee handbook and should be clearly communicated to all employees.

Non-discrimination policies should prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, national origin, and other protected classes. Anti-harassment policies should prohibit any form of harassment or bullying, including sexual harassment.

Start-up founders should ensure that all employees receive training on these policies and that they are enforced consistently and fairly. Failure to comply with non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies can result in legal liability for the start-up.

Wage and Hour Compliance

Start-up founders must also ensure that they are in compliance with all wage and hour laws. This includes complying with minimum wage and overtime requirements, as well as properly classifying employees as exempt or non-exempt.

Exempt employees are exempt from certain wage and hour requirements, such as overtime pay, but must meet certain criteria, such as being paid a salary and performing certain job duties. Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

Start-up founders must ensure that they are properly classifying employees and paying them according to all applicable wage and hour laws. Failure to comply with these laws can result in significant legal and financial penalties.

Compliance with Immigration Laws

Start-up founders must also ensure compliance with immigration laws when hiring employees. This includes verifying the employment eligibility of all new hires through the Form I-9 process and complying with all requirements related to visa sponsorship and employment authorization.

It is important for start-up founders to work with experienced immigration attorneys to ensure compliance with all immigration laws and regulations.


In conclusion, start-up founders must carefully consider employment law considerations when making hiring decisions, including the classification of workers, non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, wage and hour compliance, and compliance with immigration laws. It is important to work with experienced attorneys to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and to avoid potential legal and financial penalties. By prioritizing compliance with employment law, start-up founders can create a positive work environment and build a strong, sustainable business.

Next Steps

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Meet Chad

/Southwest Florida Attorney and CPA

I am an attorney and Certified Public Accountant serving Southwest Florida.

Previously, I served in operations and finance with the world’s largest accounting firm (PricewaterhouseCoopers), airline (American Airlines), and bank (JPMorgan Chase & Co.). I have also created and advised a variety of start-up ventures.

I am a member of The Florida Bar, and I hold active CPA licensure in Florida and Texas and undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting and taxation from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

My practice emphasizes, but is not limited to, the law as it intersects small businesses and their owners. I also assist clients with insurance claims, estate planning, and other legal matters on an ad hoc basis. I live and work in Naples, Florida.

If I can be of assistance, please email me at chad@cummings.law or click here to set up a free meeting.

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