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Archive for the tag “rules”

5th Circuit Upholds Direct Supervision Requirement For Muslim Inmate Worship Services

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Brown v. Scott, (5th Cir., July 5, 2019), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision (56 pages long) written by Judge Owen held that a 1977 consent decree allowing Muslim inmates to gather for worship without direct supervision should be vacated. While Muslim inmates had met with only indirect supervision from 1977 to 2012, that arrangement was terminated after a Jehovah’s Witness inmate successfully sued arguing that the more favorable treatment of Muslim inmates violates the Establishment Clause. The termination of the special treatment for Muslim inmates, however, violated the earlier consent decree. This led prison officials to ask that the earlier decree be vacated under provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act that allow lifting of the injunction if it is no longer needed to correct an ongoing violation of rights.

Muslim inmates argued that requiring direct supervision of their services would impose a substantial burden in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The majority held, however, that it is not prison authorities that have imposed a substantial burden, but instead it is caused by a lack of Muslim volunteers from outside who will supervise services. The majority also rejected Free Exercise and Establishment Clause arguments.

The district court had concluded that Texas prison regulations favor Catholic, Jewish, Native American and Protestant inmates over Muslim inmates.  Judge Owen concluded that this does not create an Establishment Clause violation because in the prison context the more lenient Turner v. Safley test should be applied to Establishment Clause claims.

Judge King joined all of Judge Owen’s opinion except for the Establishment Clause section. She held there was an Establishment Clause violation, but that the 1977 consent decree should be vacated nevertheless because it is broader than necessary to remedy the violation.

Judge Dennis in a separate opinion dissented as to the RLUIPA issue, and would not have reached the Establishment Clause or Free Exercise claims

You can learn more about this issue here.

Custody of Nonbiological Children—Burden and Proof Issues

In the matter of R.L. v. M.A., Case No.: 2740 EDA 2018, the Pennsylvania Superior Court delved into the leading edge of family law when it ruled upon whether an individual in a same-sex relationship can be awarded custody of a child with whom she has no biological relationship.

In R.L., the appellant, M.A., entered into a romantic relationship with R.L. (appellee) in 2012. During the relationship, the parties decided to impregnate the appellant via artificial insemination using sperm from the appellee’s brother.

The couple proceeded to prepare for the birth of the child by setting up the baby’s room and purchasing typical baby supplies. R.L. was present for the baby’s birth, chose the baby’s first name, and gave the baby her own surname. Not long after the child was born, the couple broke up.

Instead of litigating, the parties entered into an informal agreement for the custody of the child. The child lived primarily with the appellant and spent every other weekend with the appellee. This arrangement lasted until 2014 when the parties informally elected to equally share custody of the child. This 50/50 arrangement lasted nearly four years until R.L. called the daycare center where the appellant worked and which the child attended. R.L. complained that the appellant was having too much contact with the child while in daycare and even inappropriately (in her opinion) removed the child from the daycare premises.

In response to the above-mentioned telephone call, the appellant unilaterally discontinued their customary 50/50 arrangement, which led to R.L. filing a complaint for custody of the child. R.L. was granted in loco parentis over the child fairly quickly, which conferred R.L. standing to have custody of the child. The matter went to trial and the trial court entered an order granting each party equal custody, alternating on a weekly basis; the appellant appealed this order to Superior Court.

On appeal, the appellant argued that the appellee did not meet the burden of clear and convincing evidence that a nonparent should have custody equal to a parent, and that the court erred in weighing the evidence presented.

In support of her argument that appellee did not meet her burden of proof, the appellant argued that 23 Pa.C.S. Section 5327 requires a trial court to apply a presumption in favor of parents over nonparents, and, as a “nonparent,” the appellant did not meet her burden to overcome the presumption in favor of the appellee. The appellant also argued that the trial court erred in considering the parties’ informal shared custody arrangement when rending its decision.

In making its ruling, the Superior Court acknowledged that “even before the proceedings start, the evidentiary scale is tipped, and tipped hard, to the biological parents’ side.” In saying that, the Superior Court also recognized that this principle does “not preclude an award of custody to the nonparent.”

Additionally, the court made it clear that the “best interests” standard is still the touchstone when entering a child custody order. Furthermore, once someone is granted in loco parentis, she need not demonstrate that the other party is unfit, but rather merely demonstrate that it is in the best interests of the child (as proven by clear and convincing evidence) to be with the nonparent party.

The Superior Court ruled that the appellant did meet her burden of clear and convincing evidence, specifically by demonstrating that the parties lived out an agreed shared custody arrangement for a number of years, indeed most of the child’s life, and only discontinued that arrangement due to the appellee being upset over the appellant’s telephone call to the daycare center, as opposed to anything directly related to custody.

The Superior Court also indicated that the appellant’s interpretation of the law is incorrect. Namely, while the scales do tip heavily toward a parent over a nonparent, there is a distinction as to whether that nonparent is seeking shared, as opposed to primary, custody. As she was only seeking shared custody, the appellant only had the burden of clear and convincing evidence to bring the scales even with the appellee. Only if the appellant were seeking primary custody would she have to tip the scales hard toward herself under the burden of clear and convincing evidence.

Ultimately, a nonparent seeking shared custody of a child has to have standing and demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that such a custody arrangement is in the best interest of a child.

This article was originally published in The Legal Intelligencer on June 27, 2019 and can be found here.

Church Sues Over Cannabis Raid

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

Redheaded Blackbelt reported yesterday:

A church called Redwood Spiritual Healing Ministry filed a lawsuit Thursday, June 27 against the County of Humboldt and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) alleging violations of its 1st Amendment right to religious freedom as well as due process violations when a multiple agency task force destroyed cannabis as well as private property during the execution of a search warrant. The case further alleges that the County of Humboldt may have withheld relevant information from a judge by having CDFW file the Affidavit for the search warrant without informing the judge that the property in question may be a church under the law.

The full text of the complaint in Redwoods Spiritual Healing Ministry v. Humboldt County, California, (CA Super. Ct., filed 6/27/2019) embedded at the end of the news report on the lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Family Law Tip: Sole Legal Custody

I post some tips regarding family to my Linkedin page (see here) from time to time, and I thought I should start sharing them here too. Below is one of my family law tips, and you can read my articles on family law here and other posts on family law here and all are cataloged here.

 

Court Rejects Free Exercise Defense To Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Lawrence v. Treybig(TX App., June 20, 2019), a Texas state appeals court affirmed a trial court jury’s award of nominal damages and a permanent injunction against Arthur Lawrence who had been hired by a wealthy family as a basketball coach for their son, Cody Treybig, when he was nine years old. Lawrence remained in that position for six years during which time he convinced Cody of Lawrence’s paranoid religious views:

Lawrence … told Cody that Jimmy Treybig, Cody’s father, was a high-level member of an evil society called the Illuminati; that Cody’s school, his hometown of Austin, and colleges in general were full of evil Illuminati members; that the rapture was imminent; that Cody’s parents intended to have an RFID5 chip implanted into Cody’s body, which would damn him to hell; that the RFID chip would control Cody’s mind and would contain cyanide that could be used to kill him if he resisted; and that Cody’s parents and brother hated him and were evil.

In the suit against Lawrence for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the court rejected Lawrence’s free exercise defense:

Lawrence argues that the jury could not determine whether his conduct was extreme and outrageous without weighing the veracity of his religious beliefs and that the trial court therefore should have dismissed Cody’s claims. However, whether Lawrence’s views are sincerely held or whether he believed that he was helping to save Cody from damnation is irrelevant under the facts of this case, in which Lawrence’s conduct, no matter its motivation, was extreme and outrageous.

The court affirmed the award of damages of $4 and an injunction barring Lawrence from coming within 1,000 feet of Cody or contacting Cody or his family.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Texas Governor Signs “Save Chik-fil-A” Law

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law S.B. 1978 (full text) which prohibits any governmental entity in Texas from taking adverse action against any person because of the person’s affiliation, contribution or support for a religious organization. According to KXAN News:

The bill was brought forward by Republicans after San Antonio City Council voted in March to exclude Chik-fil-A from having airport concessions in their city because of the fast-food chain’s owners’ record on LGBT issues, specifically over donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army, and a George youth home; whose leaders advocate for marriage to be between one-man and one-woman.

The law has become known as the “Save Chik-fil-A bill.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Feds Settle Suit With Old Order Amish Woman Over Photo In Residency Application

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

According to the Indy Star, government agencies have settled a lawsuit brought by an Old Order Amish couple.  Under the settlement, the wife will be able to become a permanent U.S. resident without submitting photos of herself in the application for residency. She will also be able to cross the border without photographic identification.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Senior Community Management Sued Over Ban on Bible Study Groups and Public Prayer

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

A lawsuit was filed this week in a Virginia federal district court by a retired pastor and his wife against a senior living community where they lived.  The complaint (full text) in Hauge v. Community Realty Company, Inc., (ED VA, filed 5/21/2019), alleges that the community’s management discriminated against plaintiffs on the basis of religion by acceding to demands of other residents to bar plaintiffs’ followers from publicly saying grace before their meals, and prohibiting plaintiffs from hosting Bible Study anywhere in the living complex.  The suit contends that management’s actions violated federal and state fair housing laws.  First Liberty issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Court Rejects Christian Adoption Agency’s Challenge To Anti-Discrimination Regulation

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In New Hope Family Services v. Poole, (ND NY, May 16, 2019), a New York federal district court rejected a constitutional challenge by a Christian adoption agency to New York’s anti-discrimination provisions. Regulations of New York’s Office of Children & Family Services prohibit adoption agencies from discriminating, among other things, on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. New Hope Family Services will not place children with same-sex couples or with unmarried couples. Inquiries from such couples are referred to other agencies. The court rejected New Hope’s contention that the regulation violates its free exercise rights because it was adopted to target faith-based agencies.  Instead, the court found that the regulation “is facially neutral and generally applicable, and that it has been neutrally and generally applied in this case….” The court also rejected New Hope’s free speech and equal protection challenges to New York’s regulation. In a press release, ADF said that the decision is likely to be appealed.

You can learn more about this issue here.

NBI SEMINAR MATERIALS: Traditional Ways to Manage Unemployment Compensation Costs

I  had the great opportunity to lead (perhaps “teach”) a continuing legal educationseminar hosted by the National Business Institute.  The subject was “Human Resource Law From A to Z” and I had opportunity to speak on Unemployment Compensation.  I was joined by other capable attorneys who each had their own topics to present.

Although NBI published the materials, I retain the ownership of the portions I wrote, which I will post here in this blog.

Copied below are the materials I wrote for the section entitled “Traditional Ways to Manage Unemployment Compensation Costs.”

Thanks!

__________

Traditional Ways to Manage Unemployment Compensation Costs

Many employers appear to be under the impression that since they pay unemployment compensation through mandatory taxes, there is little they can do to manage their unemployment compensation costs.  The fact is, however, is that there are a few ways to manage unemployment compensation costs.

The first, and most basic, way an employer can manage unemployment compensation costs is to contest a claim for benefits.  For example, if a claimant is found to have voluntarily quits his employment or commits willful misconduct (see above), the employer is not charged for the benefits, however employers must be proactive at every step – specifically contesting a claim, submitting its forms in a timely fashion to the Department of Labor, appealing an adverse determination and/or attending a referee’s hearing – in order to ensure, to the best of its ability, that it is not charged for benefits.  To that end, providing the Department of Labor complete paperwork, a full description of the cause of the employee’s separation from employment, and supplying additional information as it becomes available is a must.  Similarly, employers are given notice by the Department of Labor of their employees’ base period wages, which can also be appealed in order to avoid an award of benefits being charged to their account.  Being sure to attend all hearings, submitting all documents within time allotted, and appealing adverse decisions can all help reduce costs.

An employer’s tax rate for unemployment compensation depends on the the number and frequency of successful claims for benefits, therefore, successfully contesting benefits can help reduce the applicable tax burden.

If a claimant is successful in securing benefits, an employer may be eligible for relief from being charged for the claimant’s benefits if it properly files for it.  An employer may be relieved of charges if, for example, the claimant was terminated for cause or voluntarily quit, or if the claimant became unemployed due to natural disaster, and/or the claimant is self-employed,

There are also some every day strategies and policies which can be implemented to help manage unemployment compensation costs.

  • First, being diligent and careful about who one hires, and ensuring a good work environment, helps ensure employees will have longer terms of employment, and less need for benefits. Relatedly, be liberal about offering leaves of absence as this also reduces the odds of employees quitting.  Keeping turnover to a minimum is the goal.  When employees are terminated (for whatever reason), it may be advisable to conduct an exit interview to document the reason for termination.
  • Second, it is vital to maintain complete and detailed employment records. These records include each and every disciplinary issue, work quality issue, and/or personality issue, and the dates of these issues, the names of all involved, the details of the investigation of these issues, and how they were resolved.
  • Third, an employer should be sure to furnish its employees with a copy of its employment manual/policies (with signed verification of receipt). So doing ensures all of its employees have had notice of what is expected of them, how discipline is applied and enforced, and what the work rules are.

 

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