Archive | November 2014

Split of circuits on same-sex marriage bans

U.S. Supreme CourtLast week, the Sixth Circuit upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states within the circuit, including Tennessee.  After four circuit courts had struck down such bans in other areas of the country, including in Virginia, there is now an expectation that the Supreme Court will address laws banning same-sex marriage.

These opinions impact employers regarding application of workplace policies and handling of benefits.  Under the Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor opinion, same-sex spouses are married for federal tax purposes, provided they were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage.  Currently for employers, this impacts qualified retirement plans.

The Sixth Circuit opinion is a 2-1 ruling with a 42-page opinion and a 21 page dissent.  Most commentators expect the Supreme Court to take up the issue now that there is a split in the circuit courts.  We will monitor upcoming opinions for their effect 0n workplace policies and management of employees.

Employees or independent contractors

Classification of workers has long caused confusion and been an area of concern for businesses.  Because independent contractors work for themselves, they are not covered by tax and employment laws in their work for businesses.  Because of the costs associated with employees and the labor and other legal requirements, employers are often tempted to label as many workers independent contractors as possible.  Even consent by the worker or a written contract calling someone a contractor is not enough; instead, the law determines who is an employee.

It is a good idea to review job responsibilities and control exerted over your workers from time to time to ensure compliance.  Worker misclassification is an area of emphasis at this time for many state and federal enforcement agencies.  Much better to review your own workers than to have the IRS do it for you after you have issued 1099s for several years.