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Business Law Archives

U.S. Supreme Court holds that severance payments are subject to FICA

In a case decided earlier this year, United States v. Quality Stores, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a split among the circuits and held that severance payments that are not linked to the receipt of state unemployment benefits are "wages" subject to FICA withholding. This decision overturned the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit which had concluded that the taxpayer, Quality Stores, Inc., was entitled to a refund of FICA taxes paid with respect to severance payments. While not a favorable decision for the taxpayer, it does offer employers some certainty that severance payments, not linked to the receipt of state unemployment benefits, are subject to FICA.

8th District Court of Appeals Agrees with Common Pleas Court that BWC Group Rating is Unconstitutional

We had previously reported, back in late 2012, that the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas determined that the Bureau of Workers' Compensation's group rating programs were illegal. That decision was appealed to the 8th District Court of Appeals, which issued its decision/analysis of the situation on May 15, 2014. The 8th District has agreed with the Common Pleas Court that the group rating programs are unconstitutional and, as a result, state-fund employers in Ohio may be entitled to hundreds of millions of dollars in premium rebates.

Validity of 2012-13 NLRB Decisions Hanging in the Balance

In what is more than likely to be one of the most momentous legal controversies of 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to render a decision that reaches the very foundations of the Republic - and could potentially invalidate hundreds of official actions of the National Labor Relations Board and an even greater number of rules and quasi-judicial determinations by a host of other presidential appointees.

Limiting Real Estate Liability With an LLC or Corporation

As a real estate and corporate attorney, I often work with clients who own investment or rental property. A common question often arises: Should a client hold title to real estate in the client's individual name, or would the client be better served by holding the property in a limited liability company (i.e., an LLC) or a corporation. Of course, the answer depends on the specific circumstances of the client's situation, but there are often advantages to holding property in an entity owned by the client.

No Decision on Union Election Agreements

Although it is not the normal response by management, there are some circumstances when employers are not opposed to the unionization of their workers. This has certainly not been our experience, but some executives feel the union apparatus could decrease their burdens in handling personnel matters. Others may survey the situation and, seeing union certification as inevitable, opt to try forming a working relationship with the union as early as possible rather than fighting an uphill campaign against it. This leads some employers to actually enter into agreements with unions to facilitate the election and certification process. However, employers who choose to take this route should be wary.

NLRB Reignites Efforts on "Ambush Elections Rule"

Union elections are a disruptive time for any company. While employers do have an opportunity to campaign against union certification prior to the union certification votes, many managers and human resources professionals would argue that the entire process is skewed in favor of unions. This is why it was particularly troubling in February 2014 when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) signaled its intent to once again consider the expedited elections procedures it previously attempted to enact in 2011.

Updating Your Employee Handbook in 2014

Has it been more than a year or two since you reviewed and revised your company's employee handbook? If so, now may be a good time to do so. The following are a few policies on which you may want to concentrate in light of recent employment law developments:

When Settlement Isn't the End: the EEOC's War on Certainty in Severance Agreements

Imagine this scenario faced by many employers with exiting employees: the employer gives the exiting employee the option to contractually waive any future right to sue the employer in exchange for a lump sum, a golden (or silver) parachute. The employee has signed the severance agreement, cashed the check, and that chapter of the company's life is closed.

Fleischauer testifies before Ohio House Judiciary Committee

Employment attorney Marc Fleischauer testified before the Ohio House Judiciary Committee on January 22, 2014, regarding the impact and legal history of HB 376, the proposed Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill purports to set uniform standards by which Ohio courts would evaluate governmental actions that burden individual religious freedoms. Several states are adopting such standards, in accordance with the United States Supreme Court's ruling in City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997). The Flores case held that similar standards under a similar federal statute could not be imposed on the states, absent state legislative action. Mr. Fleischauer is pictured here with the bipartisan bill's sponsors, Rep. Tim Derrickson (R-Hanover Township) and Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland), along with others who testified about the bill before the Judiciary Committee.

Arbitration, Should it be the New Litigation?

In 2013, the federal courts decided several cases that upheld arbitration clauses in commercial and employment contracts. These courts further upheld arbitration clauses that require individual as opposed to class action arbitration. Some dissenting United States Supreme Court Justices wrote that it may no longer be economically feasible for individuals to take on big corporations in arbitration.