Here's the kind of word problem you used to dread in the third grade: Bernstein Law Firm PC has 10 staffers, four nonpartner lawyers and four partners. How many employees does Bernstein have?
Not necessarily 18. If the partners don't count as employees, the total is 14. It's more than a semantic difference as far as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is concerned. The Americans With Disabilities Act requires companies with 15 or more employees to comply with its regulations regarding accommodations for employees' disabilities. If partners and owners count as employees, small companies whose head counts hover around 15 will have to comply.
However, it's not clear-cut whether partners and owners always count as employees, says EEOC senior attorney Ernie Haffner. A recent Supreme Court decision tossed the issue back to a circuit court to sort out. Whatever it decides will be the national precedent. Haffner's advice in the meantime: Don't assume that a partner, owner or officer is not an employee.
Companies with about 15 people in the office would be wise to follow Bernstein's lead. Partner Nicholas D. Krawec says the Pittsburgh-based firm is already accessible to the disabled.
Vets, Your Best
Entrepreneurs are finding highly skilled, highly motivated workers among those about to exit the military. To be sure, vets with security skills are among the most in demand, but those who are currently leaving the military include nurses, physical therapists, technicians and logistical whizzes, too, says Anne Dwane, vice president of marketing for Military.com. The site runs a job matchmaking service for private employers and military veterans. And, since 40 percent of its members are minorities, the military is also a great place to recruit a diverse work force. Entrepreneurs are often pleasantly surprised to find that today's vets are used to working in tight teams and are highly focused on delivering results. "They have tremendous can-do attitude," says Dwane.
One caveat, adds Daniel Parrillo, president of Strategi LLC, a San Francisco-based recruiting firm that specializes in placing people who are leaving the military: Don't overestimate the value of a security clearance and hire a veteran for that reason above all others. While many government contracts require contractors' employees to have security clearances, the clearances themselves do not assure that any company will land the job. Core qualifications still rule: Your company has to have the capacity to do the job.
Joanne Cleaver has written for a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Executive Female.