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Experts Discuss Legal Traps Non-Profits Need to Avoid at 2015 ANSI Legal Issues Forum

Sessions Included Managing Tax Issues and Best Practices for Volunteer Management

10/09/2015

Legal experts and other members of the standards and conformity assessment community gathered on Tuesday, September 29, 2015, in Washington, DC, for the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI)Legal Issues Forum. The ANSI Legal Issues Forum is held on an annual basis as part of the World Standards Week series of events, which took place this year from September 28-October 2.

The event, titled “Top Legal Traps Your Non-Profit Organization Needs to Avoid,” featured two sessions: one on “Managing Tax Issues, Including Form 990s and UBIT” and “Managing Proper Governance Practices, Including Conflicts of Interest,” and another on “Employment Compensation Issues” and “Managing, Disciplining, and Terminating Volunteers.”

ANSI’s president and CEO S. Joe Bhatia gave introductory remarks, and Eileen Lach, general counsel and chief compliance officer of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), along with Clark Silcox, general counsel of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), moderated the first session.

Marcus Owens, a partner at Loeb & Loeb LLP, explained the importance of and precautions related to IRS Form 990, explaining that the document represents a big communications opportunity for organizations. Anne Gerson, an associate at Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP, gave an overview of Unrelated Business Tax Income (UBIT), and Pamela Mann, partner at Carter Ledyard & Millburn LLP, gave a presentation on “Managing Governance Issues,” highlighting the governance landscape, key tools for good governance, and federal and state governance issues.

The second session on managing volunteers and compensation issues included moderators Christian Dubay, vice president and chief engineer of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and Claire Ramspeck, director of Technology at American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Panelists included Eileen Morgan Johnson, a partner at Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP, Suzanne Ross McDowell, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and Ronald Taylor, a partner at Venable LLP. The group discussed reasonable compensation, understanding and handling volunteers (including why proper classification of employees and private contractors is important), and volunteer rights and management. In particular, the panel discussed the importance of setting up good guidance and clear expectations for volunteers who may participate in standards development work or governance activities, including an orientation session, policies, and handbooks.

Presentations given at the event are available by reading the Legal Issues Forum 2015 Proceedings. A Legal Issues Photo Gallery is also available.

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