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.
January 16, 2023 | Faith-based nonprofit organizations should recognize whether they are obligated to follow the requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
December 13, 2022 | Faith-based nonprofits will likely face more lawsuits and government actions challenging religious freedom after Congress passed the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) repealing the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. The RMA impacts faith-based organizations in two specific situations. Both relate to interactions between the faith-based organizations’ work and the state and federal government. The threats to faith-based organizations remain despite language in the RMA purporting to protect religious freedom. Both supporters and skeptics of the RMA agree that the RMA’s religious freedom language has no “meaningful effect.” Below are key questions and “known unknowns” related to the RMA’s impact on faith-based nonprofits.
November 22, 2022 | At first glance, the voting requirements in a nonprofit’s bylaws may not seem an exciting topic. Most nonprofits have not seriously considered their bylaws, perhaps because they have inherited old bylaws, copied the bylaws of another company, or even originated their bylaws from a quick internet search! If any of these scenarios applies to your organization, your organizations’ bylaws may include director voting requirements not tailor-made to your preferences or the specific needs of your organization.