An extraordinary number of laws, rules, and regulations govern businesses and their employees. A small business, however, may be exempt from one or more of them depending on its number of employees. For example:

Discrimination Laws

Small businesses may be exempt from Title VII, the ADA and the ADEA:

  • Title VII. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments.
  •  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications. It also generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.  It generally applies to employers with 20 or more employees.

OSHA Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees workplace safety conditions, seeking to avoid employee injuries. Businesses who violate OSHA requirements pay fines–sometimes quite large fines. However, OSHA cuts small employers a break.

  • Employers with fewer than 25 employees only pay 40% of a normal fine.
  • Employers with fewer than 10 employees are actually exempt from requirements to report workplace injuries at all.

Workers Compensation

State laws set workers compensation insurance requirements, so every state’s laws vary. Some states exempt small businesses with 5 or fewer employees, some offer no exemption, and others fall somewhere in between. Check with your state’s workers’ compensation department to see what applies to you. In California, you are required to provide workers’ compensation even if you only have one employee.


The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) exempts nutritional labeling requirements for some small businesses in the food industry.  Businesses which employ fewer than an average of 100 full-time equivalent employees and sell fewer than 100,000 product units in a 12-month period are exempt from labeling requirements. To qualify, a notice must be filed with the FDA.

Businesses with annual gross sales of less than $500,000, or with annual gross sales of foods or dietary supplements to consumers of less than $50,000, are also exempt. However, the FDA does not require notice in this situation.

How DeCarli Law Can Help Your Business

Have questions about how to start, manage, or operate a business? Confused about which laws apply to you? We can help. As business attorneys, we understand the challenges you face and can help you to achieve your goals. We invite you to schedule an appointment to make sure you’re working within the laws applicable to your business.

Give us a call and get on our calendar.

If you would like to learn more call us for a initial consultation at

(707) 937-2701

email me at

or use our online calendar to schedule an appointment