With the economy still struggling and the unemployment rates looming, many Oregonians are coming up with new and creative ways to make a few dollars. Start-up businesses are cropping up across the state, many based on ideas that sound strange at first, though prove to be successful. For example, many people balked at the idea of a restaurant on wheels, however, the now booming food truck industry has allowed many chefs to succeed when they could not afford to purchase an entire brick-and-mortar restaurant. Other businesses, such as day camps for dogs, have become successful when no one even knew that they wanted or needed such services.
One Portland woman quit an office job to start her own business as a professional cuddler. Samantha Hess travels to clients’ homes and gets paid by the hour to spoon with them. Though this profession sounds odd and unsustainable, Hess’s business is so good that she now works 80 to 90 hours a week and is looking to hire six full-time employees, who will help with the snuggling. She also has plans to get building that clients will visit, which she refers to as a “cuddle emporium.”
Hess is a personal trainer with a love for studying physiology, which she claims helps her understand how a person wants to be touched to make them feel comforted and happy. However, she has strict limitations on the kind of touching that occurs during a cuddle session, as she will only touch male clients above their collarbones and clients sign waivers agreeing to certain boundaries.
Though this profession may sound weird, Hess’s business only seems to be growing. Like any growing business, as her snuggle company grows, she may have many employment concerns. For example, she
will still have to abide by employment laws and may not discriminate in hiring or firing practices. She will have to worry about whether clients may harass or sexually assault her employees during their snuggle sessions. Hess will need to look into whether she has any liability for employees who suffer injury at work or during house calls. She will have to determine whether she wants to hire independent contractors or employees, and how their status will affect how they are paid, the number of hours they work per week, and whether they have adequate break times, sick leave, family leave, and more.
These are all very common issues that creative entrepreneurs must examine as their businesses grow. No matter how successful business is going, a company owner risks losing a lot if they violate employment laws or are faced with a lawsuit filed by the employee or Bureau of Labor and Industries. Therefore, it is very important to consult with experienced employment attorneys at HKM to discuss all of your employment concerns.