Q. Is it legal for us to strongly encourage our employees to have money withheld from their paychecks to support a charity drive, like the United Way? —L.M., Texas
A. As long as you make it an option, not a mandate, you're legally fine. Just make sure employees don't feel compelled to contribute. Reason: Requiring employees to contribute to a charity is not only a bad idea but also probably illegal.
If an employee disagrees with the charity's political or religious mission, mandatory contributions could constitute discrimination. Also, if a mandatory contribution results in an employee being paid less than the minimum wage, you could face a wage-and-hour compliance issue.