Employment

Clients rely on our firm to work through the myriad employment issues that arise in the daily operations of a nonprofit.  We enable nonprofits to maximize their workers’ contributions and minimize potential legal exposure for liability.

  • Hiring, discipline, termination, and severance
    • Hiring, disciplining, and dismissing employees can be particularly challenging for nonprofit organizations, given limited resources and often overlapping relational considerations.  Our attorneys have extensive experience assisting nonprofits with these matters.  We help our clients understand the legal aspects of initial, ongoing, and severance employment matters, such as the use of background checks, disciplinary issues, special needs of employees, employee benefits, and multi-faceted considerations for employee termination.  We assist clients with written employment agreements, nondisclosure/confidentiality agreements, and severance agreements, to ensure optimal legal protection and clear mutual understandings.
  • Discrimination issues
    • Most employers are rightly concerned when faced with discrimination or harassment complaints.  Such complaints can lead to workplace tension, government investigations, and even costly legal battles.  If the complaint is mishandled, even unintentionally, a nonprofit’s mission can be disrupted.  Our attorneys draft policies to help nonprofits avoid discrimination and properly deal with the investigation and resolution of workplace complaints.  We also help organizations with governmental  investigations of discrimination complaints and employment related litigation.
  • Handbooks and policies
    • Employee handbooks are invaluable tools for informing employees of a nonprofit's expectations and providing guidance regarding workplace procedures.  The presence of written policies – and consistent application of those policies – are often effective defenses against legal claims.  Our attorneys draft employee handbooks or review those prepared by clients to ensure that they are compliant, include important provisions and best practices, and accurately reflect each organization’s actual practices and procedures.  We also help clients establish policies related to compensation, reimbursement of expenses, the use of technology and social media, and other client-specific needs.
  • Employment taxes and unemployment insurance
    • A nonprofit organization’s exemption from paying taxes on its income does not affect the requirement to withhold employees’ income taxes and to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.  In addition to these payroll taxes, employers typically must pay state unemployment taxes to fund unemployment compensation benefit programs.  We guide clients through the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors in order to determine the application of such tax laws.  We also remain attentive to exceptions applicable to nonprofits, such as in the unemployment tax arena and tax clergy matters.  As part of our employment-related legal services, our attorneys represent organizations before the IRS in employment tax matters, states’ departments of employment security in unemployment benefits matters, and other government agencies.  
  • Independent contractors
    • Knowing when to classify a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee can be complicated, especially since different standards may apply depending on legal context.  Getting it wrong can result in fines, penalties, and legal battles.  Our attorneys perform this analysis for our clients, and we draft independent contractor agreements to clearly establish the contractor’s relationship with the nonprofit.  We also assist nonprofits seeking to terminate a relationship with an independent contractor, helping them determine their rights under previously drafted agreements.
  • Volunteers
    • Volunteers often are essential to a nonprofit organization; indeed, their involvement is a hallmark of charitable activity.   For optimal legal protection regarding volunteer usage, our attorneys assist organizations through guidance on volunteer screening, appropriate standards of conduct, training, occasional wage-related issues, and other risk management considerations.
  • Shared personnel agreements
    • Multiple nonprofit organizations may decide to minimize duplicative expenses and to carry out complementary purposes in an economical and efficient manner, by sharing employees whose skills and knowledge are useful to both organizations.  This is particularly common when organizations are related as a parent and a subsidiary or when one organization is created as an offshoot born from a single program of another organization.  Our attorneys work with clients to develop agreements that allocate financial responsibilities, employee status, and other considerations in light of applicable tax laws, workers’ compensation insurance, and other applicable legal requirements.