by Lee Cotugno, Esq.
Recent decisions by the United State Supreme Court have strengthened the legal protections afforded to religious employers.
However, these legal protections are not automatic – they can be waived if a religious employer adopts policies or engages in practices that are inconsistent with the new (and evolving) standards.
To avoid these inadvertent waivers, organizations must take proactive steps to protect themselves. One measure that every faith-based organization should undertake is an employment self-audit, followed by making any necessary updates to the organization’s policies and practices. Such periodic audits of employment practices are essential elements of an organization’s ability to defend itself against litigation, whether from lawsuits brought by individuals or by the federal or state authorities.
A self-audit of employment practices should be comprehensive. Among other elements, the process should include: (1) reviewing the organization’s written policies and employment agreements; (2) aligning personnel practices to organizational policies; (3) ensuring that correct payroll practices are followed; and (4) examining the scope and amount of the organization’s insurance coverage.
Lee Cotugno discusses these best practices and more in his most recent whitepaper “Time for an Audit?”
Lee W. Cotugno obtained his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1977 where he was a Member of the Moot Court Board and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1973. Prior to joining his present firm, Mr. Cotugno worked for a prominent Los Angeles law firm and litigated a variety of complex business and commercial cases. He has tried numerous jury and court trials and has been lead trial and appellate counsel in unfair competition, banking, labor and real estate actions. A substantial portion of Mr. Cotugno’s current practice is in the area of employment law, representing small to medium sized companies as well as corporate officers, employees and workers who have claims for wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, and other violations of state and federal civil rights laws. Mr. Cotugno also advises and represents companies that seek to comply with state and federal employment laws in order to avoid litigation.
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