Feature Article
Stacking Up Electronics in the Church
Gadgets present legal, tax issues for leaders.

For most church employees, electronic communications via cell phone calls, text messaging, and e-mails have become an indispensable tool for both business and personal use. But few church leaders have a clear understanding of the legal and tax issues associated with these forms of communication. This article will explore the following issues:

  1. church liability for employees' negligent driving
  2. criminal liability for sexually explicit messages
  3. employer inspection of electronic communications
  4. application of the clergy-penitent privilege
  5. the "admissions against interest" exception to the hearsay rule
  6. sexual harassment
  7. the tax implications of cell phone use
  8. FLSA
  9. OSHA
  10. cyberattacks

Issue #1: Church Liability for Employees' Distracted Driving

There is no doubt that cell phones are a tremendous convenience, and make pastors and other church staff members accessible in the event of emergencies. But the use of such devices while operating a vehicle can cause the driver to be distracted, especially when they are used for texting, web surfing, or checking e-mail. And, distracted driving can lead to accidents and astronomical monetary damages. Some employers have paid out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits resulting from accidents caused by employees who were distracted while driving as a result of the use of a cell phone.

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Posted: November 1, 2011
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