Your workplace employment poster is a set of government notices that informs your employees of their rights and protections. Unfortunately, your employment poster most likely contains verbiage that contradicts your rights as a faith-based employer. In this article, we’ll explain the 4 most common errors made by ministries who post these legal notices.
If your ministry is non-compliant with required employment postings, it can result in legal penalties, fines, and other negative consequences. These fines and penalties may not be covered by insurance…especially if you are insured with a company that doesn’t specialize in insurance for Christian Ministries in California.
But there’s more risk than not posting what’s required. Posting the wrong information can inadvertently harm your first amendment protections as a faith based employer. If your church receives an employment discrimination claim, you may undermine your defense in court if secular documents come to light.
Ministries in California do have strong protections, but we need to make sure that evidence of your deeply held religious beliefs are evident in your works, your policies & your postings. Everything should be consistent with your faith.
Ultimately, your employment poster is a building block to a comprehensive strategy to protect your ministry. In addition to the correct documentation, you should partner with an Employment Practices Liability Insurer who is well versed in the nuances of ministry employment.
“Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal” is a poster by the EEOC that employers are required to display in the workplace to inform employees that they are protected under federal law from discrimination in the workplace. The poster includes information about the different types of discrimination that are prohibited under federal law, including discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information. It also provides information about how employees can file a complaint if they believe they have been the victim of workplace discrimination.
Ministries have diverse views on what qualifies for employment. Because of the role that theology can play in the hiring process, there are several ways your ministry could contradict this poster, such as:
For churches and faith-based non-profits , it is important to display this poster with a statement that is consistent with your theology and values. While the Civil Rights act prohibits several categories of discrimination, there is an important carve out in Title VII for religious organizations when discriminating based upon religious beliefs.
Unemployment Insurance/Disability Insurance (UI/SDI) is a state-administered program in California that provides benefits to employees who are temporarily unable to work due to illness, injury, or other qualifying reasons. The program is funded by employer payroll taxes, and employers are required to display posters that provide information about the program and how to file a claim.
However, it is important to note that as a religious non-profit in California, you are not legally obligated to participate in UI and SDI. This means that you are not required to pay into the program or provide benefits to employees who are temporarily unable to work.
While participation in UI/SDI is optional for religious organizations, some may choose to participate in the program as a way to provide additional benefits to their employees. If you do choose to participate, you will need to pay the appropriate payroll taxes and comply with all relevant regulations.
In order to comply with state regulations, your California ministry should display a notice in the workplace informing employees whether you do or do not participate in the program. If you don’t, employees should know who to contact in the organization for more information about any available benefits.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain family and medical reasons. The FMLA applies to all eligible employees, including those in domestic partnerships.
Domestic partnerships are not recognized by all religious organizations, and as such, it’s important for your ministry to have clear policies and guidelines in place to ensure that these matters are handled in line with your core values and beliefs. You should review any FMLA posting verbiage in your workplace, and if needed, amend the verbiage with your attorney or insurance broker to reflect your deeply held beliefs.
While the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers in California to provide certain protections and accommodations to transgender and gender non-conforming employees, non-profit religious organizations are exempt from these requirements. This means that churches are not considered employers under FEHA’s unlawful practices provisions, and are therefore not required to comply with the Transgender Rights in the Workplace poster issued by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Your church may address transgender matters in a manner consistent with your theology, while still complying with other applicable laws and regulations. It’s important to make employees aware of this fact so they understand your deeply held beliefs are integral to your faith-based hiring decisions.
Your employment poster is an important aspect of complying with applicable laws and regulations, but you should make sure your poster is tailored to the needs of your ministry. Review your current poster with qualified legal counsel, or request a pre-built Ministry Workplace Poster from your local ChurchWest advisor.
Charlie Cutler is the President of ChurchWest Insurance Services, a California-based agency that specializes in providing insurance solutions to churches and related ministries. Charlie has been with ChurchWest for over 20 years and has extensive experience in the insurance industry, with a particular focus on the unique risks and challenges facing Christian organizations. Charlie is a sought-after speaker and has presented at numerous conferences and seminars on insurance and risk management topics.
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