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  • Writer's pictureJennie Tannenbaum

Lattes, Wedges, Platforms and Cappuccinos

Updated: May 13, 2020

It had been a few weeks, since the bank approved Matilda’s application for a small business loan to open her dream shoe boutique/cafe. She was tired like a Monday morning, but enthusiastic and in the process of reviewing the lease with her lawyer. Next she would be going over the design for the store front signage. She had many other tasks to complete before the first shoes could be sold. She was thinking about getting the boutique and café stocked and ready for the grand opening. Besides, placing orders with vendors for the merchandise, she was meeting with her lawyer to set up and discuss some of the basic things her small business needed in order to comply with state and federal laws.

Tilly’s lawyer spoke to her about the type of business entity that would be best suited to the boutique/café. Her lawyer went over the various types of business entities in the state of Massachusetts which are appropriate for small businesses, namely, sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership and limited liability company.

Since, the boutique was solely owned by Tilly and she had no business partners or shareholders, it made sense to look more closely at the sole proprietorship and the limited liability company (LLC) because these are more suited to her business.

A sole proprietorship is a business organization where an individual is conducting business for themselves, no one else is in control of the business or shares in the profits. The owner bears all business losses and is personally liable for all the obligations of the business to the full extent of their personal and business assets, unless there is a written contract otherwise. Torts or wrongful acts that the sole proprietor commits and those committed by her employees within the scope of employment would be held against Tilly.

A LLC like a sole proprietorship may be comprised of one individual. This is also known as a disregarded entity. It is unlike a sole proprietorship in that it may have more than one individual. A LLC is further distinguished from a sole proprietorship in that it provides limited liability to all its member(s). Tilly would not be personally liable for any of the debts, obligations and liabilities of the business. It was decided that the LLC best suited the boutique/café because Tilly is the sole owner and she would be insulated from personal liability.

Tilly and her lawyer discussed the classification of employees as either exempt or non-exempt for both the shoe boutique and the café portion of the business. They discussed the child labor laws in the state, because Tilly had been accepting applications from many of the local high school students. Her lawyer made it clear that she must both be aware and act in accordance with the child labor laws which dictated the number of hours and actual time of day that minors could work. In Massachusetts minors ages 14 through 18 years old are permitted to work up to 18 hours a week during the school year and no more than 40 hours a week during the summer.

Additionally, Massachusetts limits the actual time of day minors may work. Those times are as follows: 14 and 15-year olds may work only between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. during the school year. From July 1 through Labor Day this age group may work only between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

In Massachusetts 16 and 17-year olds may work only between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on nights preceding a regularly scheduled school day. However, if the business stops serving customers at 10:00 p.m., the minor may be employed until 10:15 p.m. They may work only between 6:00 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. on nights not preceding a regularly scheduled school day. An exception is for minors employed by restaurants and racetracks, that is, only between 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. midnight on nights not preceding a regularly scheduled school day.

Tilly and her lawyer also discussed policies that must be in place in the business’ employee handbook as well as some trainings that should take place before she opens for business. Look for future articles to see what offerings Tilly will have for her customers in the café section and to see what else the shoe boutique/café will need to have in place before the launch of its grand opening day.

If you would like assistance or advice about starting your small business contact Simply Good Law, LLC for a consult. 

This article is for information purposes only and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. For more information or discussion contact me at or at 978-681-0017.

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