Churches

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The ERISA Litigation Newsletter - April 2015

Editor's Overview - In this month's Newsletter, Robert Rachal discusses recent "church plan" rulings where some federal judges have declined to give deference to long-standing, consistent guidance from the Internal...more

Who Files The Most Permit Applications?

California Corporations Code Section 25113(d) requires the Commissioner of Business Oversight to prepare and publicize an annual report of the number of permits that it issues for the offer and sale of securities. The report...more

In Childhood Sexual Abuse Case, California Appellate Court Finds Church has No Duty to Prevent Its Members from Harming Each Other

In Conti v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. (filed 4/13/15, A136631), the California Court of Appeal, First District, reversed an award of $8 million in punitive damages, on the ground that a Jehovah’s...more

Church Property Tax Liability in Arizona for Commercial Leases

Arizona House Bill 2128, which was signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey on March 23, 2015, has potential impact on the commercial real estate leasing market. The bill enables owners of real property that is leased to...more

What Should Your Church Know about Social Security?

Social Security and Medicare taxes are collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). Many people refer to contributions to Social Security and Medicare as...more

City of Dallas Sues Synagogue and Property Owners Who Use Home for Religious Worship Services

The City of Dallas is suing Congregation Toras Chaim, Inc. (“CTC”), a small Jewish Orthodox synagogue that operates out of a private residential home, to enforce the City’s local code and require the synagogue to obtain a...more

Ninth Circuit to Consider Effect of Hobby Lobby in Land Use Context

We previously reported on the lawsuit filed by Harbor Missionary Church against San Buenaventura, California involving the City’s denial of a conditional use permit to allow the Church to continue to operate a soup kitchen in...more

Mediation at an Impasse: Attorneys’ Fees near $700K in Jacksonville Beach Case

Late last year, a federal court in Florida issued a decision in favor of Church of Our Savior, which wished to build a place of worship on Beach Boulevard (“Property”) in Jacksonville Beach, Florida....more

Employee Could Proceed With Whistleblower Lawsuit Based On Employer’s Mistaken Belief She Had Complained

Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 231 Cal. App. 4th 913 (2014) - Cecilia Diego, the former assistant director of Pilgrim United’s preschool, sued her former employer for retaliation in violation of public...more

Illinois District Court Holds That a Plan Maintained by a Religiously Affiliated Organization Is Not a Church Plan

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently had the opportunity to weigh in on the issue of whether a religiously affiliated employer was exempt from federal regulation of its employee...more

The High Court Hears Argument: Is Gilbert’s Sign Ordinance Content-Neutral? What Standard of Review Should Apply?

Last summer, we reported that the U.S. Supreme Court granted Good News Community Church’s (Church) petition for a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Reed v. Town of...more

Kennesaw, Georgia Back in the News: Suffa Dawat Center Files “Preventative” Lawsuit

In December, we reported that Kennesaw, Georgia’s City Council reversed its initial decision to deny an Islamic place of worship and education center in a retail shopping plaza.  Despite the approval, the applicant, Suffa...more

Religious Institution - January 2015

Experience over the last couple decades teaches that religious institutions face as much or perhaps more liability than secular organizations and, therefore, need to take risk management seriously. From operating their own...more

Glee Camp Not So Happy: Auburn’s Zoning Enforcement Action Alleged to Violate RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision

The First Presbyterian Church of Auburn (the “Church”) has hosted a musical theater day camp (“Glee Camp”) in Auburn, New York for approximately three years. In July of 2014, Auburn’s code enforcement officer issued a...more

Evangelical Church Sues Colonie, New York, Alleges Religious Discrimination, Over Delays in Land Use Approval Process

An evangelical church, Life Covenant Church a/k/a LifeChurch.tv (“LifeChurch”), is suing Colonie, New York (“Town”), the Town’s Planning Board, certain of its members, and the Town’s attorneys over allegations that the Town’s...more

Mosque Sues Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania Over Denial

The Bensalem Masjid Inc. (“Masjid”) has sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania (“Township”) and the Township’s Zoning Hearing Board (“Board”) for denying approval to construct a mosque. Nine months after the application was...more

St. Michael, Minnesota’s Cinemagic Theater: Riverside Church’s New Home? No, Says City Council

The City of St. Michael, Minnesota, after several months of negotiations, has denied Riverside Church’s application to modify the City’s General Business Zoning District (“GBD”). The zoning amendment would have allowed...more

Cal. App. Court Finds in Favor of “Whistleblower” Who Never Blew the Whistle

In Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of Christ, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2014 WL 6602601 (Cal. App. 4 Dist.), the California Court of Appeal determined that Cecilia Diego (Plaintiff) could pursue a common law public policy retaliation...more

What’s a “Similarly Situated” Comparator under RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision? Florida Federal Court Explains in Finding Against...

Few courts have identified what it means to be a “similarly situated” comparator under RLUIPA’s equal terms provision. Recently, in Church of Our Savior v. City of Jacksonville, (M.D. FL 2014), a federal court in Florida...more

Federal Court Enters Injunctive Order Against Bayview, Texas in RLUIPA Suit Filed by Church

We previously reported on the case Cornerstone Church by the Bay v. Town of Bayview, Texas, in which the Church and the Laguna Madre Christian Academy are suing the Town (population approx. 400) under the Religious Land Use &...more

Sale of Property for Secular Use Does Not Constitute “Religious Exercise”

The Northern District of California recently dismissed RLUIPA claims filed by the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (the “Conference”) against the City of San Francisco. The case revolves around the...more

Perspectives - November 2014

In this issue: - Not-for-Profit Spotlight - Top Compliance Challenges in Church Accounting - 10 Ways to Lose Your Not-for-Profit Status - Not-For-Profit Fleet Management - Events -...more

Virginia Federal Court Clarifies RLUIPA Standing Requirements & Dismisses Substantial Burden Claim

In an important decision, the court in Aldon, LLC v. City of Newport News, Virginia (E.D. Va. Nov. 20, 2014), clarified the standing requirements under RLUIPA. Few courts have addressed RLUIPA’s standing requirements. The...more

Seventh Circuit: Plaintiffs Lacked Standing to Challenge Tax Exemption for Ministerial Rental Allowances

In November 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin declared unconstitutional Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, which excludes from gross income rental allowances paid to ministers as...more

New RLUIPA Suit: Mount Zion Church of God in Christ v. City of Garden City, Kansas

Garden City, Kansas is being sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the U.S. Constitution, and state law over allegations that it has discriminated against a local church, Mount Zion...more

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