Yes.  What laws apply to you as an employer often is dependent upon the number of employees you have.  In addition, how you count employees also matters.  (full-time only or do part-time count? What is employed for only part of a year?).

This article will provide a brief breakdown of some “head-count” numbers that are important in determining that information.  This is not intended as an all-inclusive list but provides some general guidance on when an employer may need to take a more detailed look to determine if certain laws apply.

Federal (and Tennessee) Laws that Could Apply if the Employer Has:

1 or More Employees

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wage, overtime laws/Child labor laws) – coverage generally based on “interstate commerce” combined with annual revenues in excess of $500,000
  • HIPAA – creditable coverage for employer’s health insurance plan and privacy for protected health information (“PHI”) if obtain the information in a claims adjustment role
  • National Labor Relations Act – applies to employers whose operations “affect commerce” – protects employees “Section 7” rights to organize and bargain collectively and prohibits an employer’s discipline against employees who engage in “protected concerted activity”
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 – only if a public company
  • Section 1981 – prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in the making and enforcing of contracts
  • Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Act (“TOSHA”)
  • Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law for employers in construction industry
  • Uniformed Service Employees Re-employment Rights Act (“USERRA”)

4 or More Employees

  • Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (“IRCA”) – prohibits national origin and citizenship discrimination and requires employers to verify identity and employment eligibility (on I-9 forms)

5 or More Employees

  • Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law for all non-construction industry employers

8 or More Employees

  • Tennessee Human Rights Act and Tennessee Disability Act – prohibit discrimination or harassment based on race, age, sex, religion as well as disability (including affirmative obligation to provide reasonable accommodation)

15 or More Employees


  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – prohibits discrimination or harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex
  • Americans with Disabilities Act – prohibits discrimination or harassment, and requires reasonable accommodation, of qualified individuals with a disability
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • Equal Pay Act

20 or More Employees

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act – prohibits discrimination and harassment against person who are 40 years old or older
  • COBRA – requires employers to provide notice to employees upon a “qualifying event” (including termination of employment) that results in loss of health insurance coverage of the employees right to elect continuation of such health insurance coverage at 102% of applicable group premium rates

50 or More Employees

  • Family & Medical Leave Act – provides rights to certain eligible employees to have up to 12 weeks of job-protected (but unpaid) leave for certain qualifying conditions – manner of counting “employees” includes employees within 75-mile radius of worksite

100 or More Employees


  • Workers’ Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN” Act) – requires employer to provide affected employees with at least 60 days’ advance notice of any “plant closing” (closing results in layoff of 50 or more employees) or “mass layoff” (layoff results in job loss of 50 or more employees and 33% or more of workforce)
  • Tennessee Family Leave Act – requires employer to provide up to 4 months of job-protected (but unpaid) leave to eligible employees for birth or adoption of child