Keeping Tabs on Independent Contractors

Is your organization classifying its independent contractors correctly?

The misclassification of independent contractors as employees continues to remain at the forefront of the enforcement agendas for both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL). In addition, as of this writing, 37 states have entered into formal memoranda of understanding with the DOL to jointly pursue worker misclassification. Many employers, both small and large, continue to struggle with how to properly classify their workers. The potential costs to an employer who misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor can be significant. For example, if an employer issues Form-1099 to a worker considered to be an independent contractor who is later determined to be an employee by the DOL, the employer may be required to pay back-wages, liquidated damages and attorney’s fees. He may also be liable to the IRS and Social Security Administration for unpaid taxes and other penalties.        Continue reading “Keeping Tabs on Independent Contractors”

Illinois Employment Law Short Takes

Two important Illinois employment laws take effect on January 1, 2017: the Illinois Sick Leave Act and the Illinois Freedom to Work Act.

The Illinois Sick Leave Act
The Illinois Sick Leave Act, which does not require employers to provide personal sick leave, applies only to employers who provide personal sick leave benefits to their employees. The Act does not compel any employer to adopt personal sick leave benefits, even if that employer does not already have personal sick leave benefits in place. Continue reading “Illinois Employment Law Short Takes”

Steering Clear of “Disparate Impact” for Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating in employment matters against older workers. Overt discrimination is easy to spot and relatively easy to prove in court. Most employers understand this and will (wisely) refrain from saying such things as, “Let’s get rid of the dinosaurs.” Continue reading “Steering Clear of “Disparate Impact” for Age Discrimination”

Attention Non-Profits (and Social Enterprises): Are Your Charitable Registrations in Order?

The executive director of a national charity contacted our office with a question about charitable registrations. She served on the board of a non-profit corporation called “Socks for Everyone,”[1] and her board actively solicited charitable contributions in every state. She explained that Socks had filed for authorization to do business in every state, but had registered to solicit only in Illinois—its state of incorporation. She had been informed that Socks did not need to register in the other 49 states since it was already authorized to do business in all of them. Continue reading “Attention Non-Profits (and Social Enterprises): Are Your Charitable Registrations in Order?”

Understanding Trademarks

Trademarks are valuable assets of businesses and non-profit organizations. A carefully-selected trademark can help a business distinguish itself in the marketplace and create a lasting impression with consumers. Through continual use, trademarks enable businesses and organizations to generate goodwill with the public. This goodwill can become the most valuable asset of the business or organization. Because trademarks are so important, businesses and non-profit organizations should carefully consider which trademarks to use and adequately protect those marks. Continue reading “Understanding Trademarks”

IRS Decides Bitcoin is “Property.” What Does this Mean for Nonprofits?

Nonprofits should be aware of some recent developments in the IRS treatment of Bitcoin. The IRS recently decided Bitcoin would be treated as property under US tax law. What does that mean for nonprofits who want to receive contributions of Bitcoin? And what does it mean for donors wishing to make contributions in Bitcoin? Continue reading “IRS Decides Bitcoin is “Property.” What Does this Mean for Nonprofits?”

Volunteers and Independent Contractors May Be Entitled to Protection under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

Editor’s Note: Most churches make extensive use of volunteers in their children’s ministries. Churches need good policies to guide in the selection and supervision of volunteers. A good policy will mandate background checks for all volunteers.

John Doe pastors a growing congregation by the name of Growing Church (“GC”). GC operates a host of programs, including men’s and women’s bible studies, a ministry to the teenagers, and a thriving children’s ministry. Recently, one of the church members approached Pastor John and suggested that GC start doing criminal background checks on all the volunteers who interact with the church’s teenagers and children. Pastor John along with the elders agreed, and GC immediately took steps to implement screening procedures on all of its volunteers. Continue reading “Volunteers and Independent Contractors May Be Entitled to Protection under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”

Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Lew: Is the Ministerial Housing Allowance Unconstitutional?

UPDATE :  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals avoided the constitutional question posed in Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Lew[1] (described in the original story below), by vacating, for lack of standing, a lower court’s ruling that the ministerial housing allowance violates the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. (“FFRF”) and its co-presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor[2] and Dan Barker.[3] They claimed that the Defendants, the Secretaries of the Treasury Department and Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service[4], respectively, violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection component of the Fifth Amendment. Continue reading “Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Lew: Is the Ministerial Housing Allowance Unconstitutional?”

Notice by Snail Mail May Be Out-of-Date

A federal appellate court recently ruled that the “mailbox rule” – a legal presumption of mail delivery when a stamped letter is placed in the mailbox – may be out of date.

In a case regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on August 5th that an employer did not prove its employee actually received notice of FMLA compliance requirements merely because it placed correspondence in a stamped envelope and put the envelope in the U.S. mail.[1] Continue reading “Notice by Snail Mail May Be Out-of-Date”

Board Term Limits – Pro and Con

We have had a number of clients ask about whether it is mandatory to include term limits in their nonprofit bylaws. The arguments for and against term limits are equally valid, and we suggest that each board must make its own decision about whether term limits are essential to the board’s governance function.

Those who argue for term limits typically cite the need to bring “new blood” onto the board. New directors bring a freshness of insight, and changes in the operating climate may require new skill sets. A systematic rotation on and off the board lessens the likelihood that a board becomes tired and loses vitality. Continue reading “Board Term Limits – Pro and Con”