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‘Tis the season for charity, but beware violating ‘No solicitation’ policy

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

It's common this time of year to receive charitable requests to help schools, the homeless, the needy, etc. The requests may come from outsiders or even among co-workers. Not a problem, right?

Wrong. You could face a legal problem if your organization follows a general "No solicitation" policy for most of the year, but you don't enforce it during the holiday season. If you later try to apply your policy to solicitations made, for example, in a union organizing drive, you could pay for the inconsistency.

Reason: Under the National Labor Relations Act, you're allowed to set a "no solicitation/no distribution" rule. But your policy could be struck down as an unfair labor practice if you try to enforce the rule only on union organizing activities.

So, does that mean you can never allow posters for a blood drive or Girl Scout cookie sale? Actually, "No." In the wake of 9/11 fund-raising, the National Labor Relations Board said organizations can allow "a small number of isolated beneficent acts" without violating the rule.

Final note: Never require employees to contribute to a charity of your choice. If an employee disagrees, for example, with that charity's religious mission, mandatory contribution could be seen as religious discrimination. Make donations an option, not a mandate.

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