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Could Your Church Face an ADA Noncompliance Lawsuit for Its Website or App?
What to know about this rising trend in litigation.
Could Your Church Face an ADA Noncompliance Lawsuit for Its Website or App?
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Our webhost recently brought to my attention a trend in lawsuits targeting websites and apps for their failures to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Could your church or ministry face such a claim? I have good news—read on!

When the Church Office Closes for Bad Weather, Does Everyone Get Paid?
The legal—and logical—considerations regarding how to handle an office closure.
When the Church Office Closes for Bad Weather, Does Everyone Get Paid?
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Winter weather advisory: snow, gusty winds, ice, and bitter cold are hitting much of our nation, with the Polar Vortex bringing wind chills of 50 below or worse this week in parts of the Midwest.

How should churches address inclement weather issues for their employees? And are ...

Churches: Note Time-Off Requirements for the Election
Check your state’s statute addressing what employers must provide.
Churches: Note Time-Off Requirements for the Election
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Election Day is upon us—and churches as employers need to note their potential legal obligations to give employees time off to vote.

As Kiplinger Letter recently noted, 29 states keep laws on the books that require employers to accommodate voting time of between one and ...

When Volunteers Drive for Your Church
Tips for handling this critical area of risk-management.
When Volunteers Drive for Your Church
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To help churches better understand some of the issues involved with volunteer drivers, we talked with Frank Sommerville. He is an attorney and editorial advisor for ChurchLawAndTax.com.

What should you know before allowing volunteers to drive on behalf of the church?

You should ...

Responding to Injuries at Church
What to do when employees or volunteers get hurt.
Responding to Injuries at Church
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A pastor falls off a ladder while hanging a banner. A volunteer trips while playing with second-graders in the kids ministry. A staff member gets injured during an on-site church activity.

Injuries are surprisingly common at churches. Responding quickly to them can help get an ...

Protecting Your Church in Case of Allegations of Abuse
Protecting Your Church in Case of Allegations of Abuse
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Around a year ago, attorney Richard J. Mathews shared lessons he learned from advising the Boy Scouts of America during the organization’s child sexual abuse crisis. We recently interviewed him regarding what churches should know about insurance coverage for abuse.

What ...

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Christian Schools
The religious freedom victory now could mean others in the future.
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Christian Schools
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The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on its most important religious freedom case of the year, and they ruled in favor of a church.

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer was a lawsuit brought by a Lutheran church against the director of the Missouri Department ...

Church Cell Tower Leases and Zoning Laws
How to navigate the process smoothly and with minimal problems.
Church Cell Tower Leases and Zoning Laws
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Kevin Donohue spent decades building networks for wireless companies before switching sides to represent landowners through his work with Tower Genius—a consultant firm that helps churches, businesses, and private citizens with lease agreements. He spoke with us about ...

How Recent Changes to Form I-9 and the R-1 Visa Process Affect Churches
What church leaders need to know about recent changes to workers’ immigration forms and processes
How Recent Changes to Form I-9 and the R-1 Visa Process Affect Churches
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Form I-9 Changes in January 2017

Recently the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new version of its Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification form, and required US employers to begin using the new Form I-9 by January 22, 2017. Currently, US Immigration ...

How to Safely Use Copyrighted Video During Church Services
An attorney answers the most common questions she receives about video copyright.
How to Safely Use Copyrighted Video During Church Services
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You found a perfect video clip to highlight the deep spiritual point you wish to make on the platform. People will connect. Lives will be changed. But what is the risk in incorporating it into your message? And what, if anything, can you do to legally play the video clip?

Many ...

Interview Questions Prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act
What you should and shouldn't ask an applicant.
Interview Questions Prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act
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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it unlawful for a covered employer to discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee with a disability. The ADA applies to private employers having 15 or more employees and engaged in commerce. The U.S. Equal Employment ...

Do Ministers of Small Churches Need to Know Employment Laws?
Why it's worth investing time in learning these.
Do Ministers of Small Churches Need to Know Employment Laws?
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Many young ministers and ministers of new churches ask whether it's worth investing the time learning employment laws applicable to larger, more established churches. The answer is yes.

Our family's home church grew from 1 employee to over 700 in a remarkably short amount ...

Do Churches Practice Age Discrimination in Hiring?
Six general trends I've seen.
Do Churches Practice Age Discrimination in Hiring?
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It’s a simple question with profound implications. Do churches seek to hire pastors and/or staff who fall within a tightly defined age range?

Please understand that this article is about general trends. There are certainly many exceptions to each point I make. But these ...

Microsoft Resolves Office 365 Charity Licensing Issue for Churches
The restrictions related to nonprofits receiving a discount have changed.
Microsoft Resolves Office 365 Charity Licensing Issue for Churches
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Many Christian churches and ministries have been uncomfortable with the Microsoft charity program for Office 365 because it requires them to certify they don’t discriminate in their employment practices regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. On ...

Faith and Law Are Key Reasons for Vaccinations
Why ministry is helped when church leaders consider creating vaccination policies.
Faith and Law Are Key Reasons for Vaccinations
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Concern for vaccines and their negative effects has grown in recent years. That concern has translated into action: parents refusing vaccines for their children for religious or health reasons (or both). Christianity Today notes that “Vaccination rates are so low in some ...

Photos on Church Websites—Learning From Our Costly Mistake
How using images from Internet searches can lead to trouble.
Photos on Church Websites—Learning From Our Costly Mistake
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My church received a letter claiming that we used an image on our website without a license and that we had to pay a fine of $550. After some research, the claim appeared legitimate.

The image in question was one we had found with a Google search, and we assumed it was free to ...

May All Your Christmas Services Be Merry ... and Legal
Songs you can sing without the Grinch showing up with his team of lawyers.

Could your church be sued for belting out "Angels We Have Heard on High" this Christmas season? No—unless the specific arrangement you're singing is copyrighted.

You'll be pleased as Christmas punch to know that many of your favorite Christmas songs are ...

Do Pastors Own Sermons?
What churches and ministers must know about copyright law

Christianity Today explored the topic of who owns a pastor's sermon. Churches and pastors may find this subject difficult to discuss, especially when sales of published sermons start to significantly add up.

Attorney Frank Sommerville shared his expertise in the Christianity ...

Commission Recommends: Loosen Church's Political Speech Restrictions

Editor's Note: Michael Batts is an Editorial Advisor for Church Law & Tax. Michael also served as the chairman of the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations. Richard Hammar, senior editor of Church Law & Tax, served on the commission.

When Copyright Violations Cost Churches
Some common practices may lead to surprising fines.

Church leaders may not realize it, but common practices conducted in worship services and through website updates may put their churches at risk for copyright violations. Fines are assessed by the violation, including attorneys' fees, meaning a church that violates the copyrights ...

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Managing Church Facility Use

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Find insights to equip your church to host members and strangers.