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  • March 25, 2014

OFCCP Adopts Final Rules Expanding Disability Hiring Requirements

Over the past several years, the Department of Justice’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has undertaken several revisions to its regulations governing equal employment opportunity.  One of the more important revisions amended Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 60-741: Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination Obligations of Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Regarding Individuals with Disabilities.  The initial advanced notice of proposed rulemaking was published in July 2010; 400 comments and several revisions and notices later, the final rules were adopted and published in the Federal Register on September 24, 2013. These rule amendments become effective March 24,…

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  • March 18, 2014

Maryland Court of Appeals Holds Exculpatory Clauses Valid and Enforceable Against Claims Made by a Minor Child

Exculpatory clauses have long been used as a means for protecting commercial enterprises, religious and charitable organizations, and other non-profits from potential liability for the consequences of conduct that would otherwise be negligent.  In Maryland, in the absence of legislation to the contrary, exculpatory clauses are generally valid, and public policy of freedom of contract is best served by enforcing provisions of exculpatory clauses.  Wolf v. Ford, 335 Md. 525, 644 A.2d 522 (1994).  Exculpatory clauses have been held valid and enforceable in a variety of situations.  Winterstein v. Wilcom, 16 Md. App. 130, 293 A.2d 821 (1972) (release and waiver of…

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  • March 11, 2014

Hotel Pool Lift Requirements Under the ADA

Over the last several years, the hospitality industry has grappled with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make a number of recreational facilities, including swimming pools, accessible to individuals with a disability.

Title III of the ADA requires places of public accommodation, including hotels, to remove physical barriers in existing pools to the extent it is readily achievable to do so. In 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published regulations under the ADA that contained specific accessibility requirements for swimming pools, and other types of recreational facilities.

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  • February 25, 2014

The Formation and Structure of the Maryland Religious Corporation

A Religious Corporation is a non-stock corporation.  As such, the provisions of the Maryland general statutory corporate law will apply to it, unless the provisions of the statute clearly require otherwise.  Maryland Code, Corporations & Associations Article § 5-201. A Religious Corporation is created under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Maryland Code, Corporations & Associations Article.    This subtitle sets out the means of forming a religious corporation under a “congregational form of church government” contemplated by the statute.  Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church of Fruitland, Inc. v. Board of Incorporators,  348 Md. 299 (1997).  However, the subtitle…

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  • February 18, 2014

IRS Changes Health FSA “Use or Lose” Rule

On October 31, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2013-71 (Notice), which modifies the “use or lose” rule for health flexible spending accounts (Health FSAs).

Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are popular benefits offered by many employers as part of their employee’s health-care package.  Health FSAs are accounts that allow employers to reimburse employees for qualifying out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as deductibles and co-pays, on a tax-free basis.  The account must be set up according to a written plan that meets both statutory and IRS requirements.

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  • February 4, 2014

The Historical Roots of Maryland Church Law

Maryland’s law concerning Churches and Religious Corporations grows out of the State’s history of religious freedom, which is the oldest such tradition in the Nation.   The General Assembly of Maryland, meeting in St. Mary’s City, adopted The Act of Toleration (formally “An Act Concerning Religion”) on April 21, 1649. This Act secured religious freedom for all Christians “inhabiting, residing, trafficking, trading or commercing within this Province.”  The Act established both policy and protection for religious worship:  And whereas the enforcing of the conscience in matters of religion hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous consequence in those commonwealths…

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  • January 7, 2014

Are Non-Religious Corporations Protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution?

Francis A. Gilardi and his brother Philip Gilardi are co-owners of Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, closely-held ‘S Corporations.’ Their businesses employ about 400 employees, and they have traditionally offered a self-insured health plan through a third-party administrator. As devout Catholics, the Gilardis oppose and wish to exclude coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion under their health insurance policies. The Affordable Care Act (informally known as “Obamacare”) directs all group health plans to provide “preventive care.” It has been determined that preventive care includes FDA approved “contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive…

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