July 22, 2023

Key Employment Laws In Dentistry

By Patrick Stanley

Dental practices, like other employers, must comply with employment laws. The laws are often complex, and involve both state and federal statutes and regulations. Our practice focuses on providing dentist with the legal resources they need to remain compliant with these laws so they can focus on their own practices.  We have provided common legal questions we receive, as well as additional information about some of the applicable laws below.

What Is Arizona’s Minimum Wage?

As of January 1, 2022, Arizona’s minimum wage is $12.80 per hour. Arizona’s minimum wage is set as a result of Proposition 206, also called the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act. Voters passed Proposition 206 in 2016, with the changes taking effect on January 1, 2017. The new law, found at A.R.S. Section 23-363, initially set the minimum wage at $10 per hour.  However, the law also provided set minimum wage increases through 2020. Beginning in 2021, minimum wage increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index, a publication from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you have employees making near the minimum wage, you should check with the Arizona Department of Labor in the fall of each year to determine whether there has been a minimum wage increase.

Do I Have To Provide Paid Sick Leave?

Yes.  All Arizona employers must provide paid sick leave.  Proposition 206, which established the minimum wage, also requires paid sick leave for employees. Generally speaking, employees earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  For employers with less than 15 employees, the total amount of mandatory paid sick leave per year is capped at 24 hours.  For employers with 15 or more employees, workers can accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave.  Accrued sick leave carries over from year to year, so employees can earn more than the minimums if it is not used.  However, dentists do not need to compensate employees for unused sick leave when their employment ends.

What Federal Employment Laws Do I Need To Know?

There are a number of federal statutes and regulations that may potentially apply to your practice. This is not intended as an exhaustive resource of these regulations. However, we can go over a few of the most common employment regulations.

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin for employers, and it generally applies to most employers with 15 or more employees.
  • The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA prohibits employment discrimination against “qualified individuals with disabilities.” As with Title VII, this usually applies to most employers with 15 or more employees.  However, there are separate rules that apply to ADA accessibility.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): The ADEA prohibits discrimination on the basis of age and protects employees over the age of 40 from employment discrimination.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): The FLSA establishes the federal minimum wage, which is lower than the Arizona minimum wage.  The FLSA also has rules regarding overtime pay and recordkeeping. It applies to almost all employers, regardless of size.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA requires certain employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for qualified medical and family reasons. The qualified reasons include events like personal or family illness, family military leave, pregnancy, and adoption.  However, the FMLA generally only applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

Employment laws are often complex and confusing.  If you are a dentist with questions about how these laws affect your practice, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys directly.


This post is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a licensed attorney. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created by the posting of this information.  If you have specific legal questions after reading this post, you should contact a licensed attorney.