Category Archives: Nonprofits & Churches

Social Media Research by Employers

Employers Run Risks by Researching Potential Employees on Facebook

There are significant risks for employers who use Facebook and other social media to research potential employees.

According to one study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University a small percentage of employers, between ten percent and a third of companies, use social media to research potential employees. While most employers are likely to deny that they violate discrimination laws, the study suggests that researching social media information may result in unlawful discrimination, whether consciously or not.

Information that potential employees post may present or suggest factors that if used to disqualify them from employment might violate federal and state laws designed to prevent specific acts of discrimination. Such information may be used intentionally by potential employers or unconsciously may influence hiring decisions. Once the employer has the information, particularly when that information relates to gender, religious preferences, age, marital status, or sexual orientation, it may prove a liability in any defense against unlawful discrimination.

A second more recent study conducted by North Carolina State University presents another liability of using social media research for potential employees: it alienates the very individuals that the employer seek to hire. Will Stoughton, a Ph.D. student at the university and the lead researcher, notes that the hiring process is an applicant’s first impression of an employer and serves to indicate how the employer treats its employees. Further, he suggests that if potential employees believe an employer has compromised their personal privacy it will place the employer at a competitive disadvantage for quality personnel.

One might question whether a potential employee should have any expectation of privacy for information shared on social media, particularly since they determine what information to share and with whom. However, legislation was proposed in North Carolina during this past year to prevent employers from requiring applicants to disclose access information for social media accounts precisely because the practice of using social media as a research tool so has gained momentum.

According to the study, most participants deemed the act of accessing their Facebook profiles by potential employers to be inappropriate even when that information is public. Further, they reported a negative impression of the company for doing so.

In the end, using social media as a screening tool can create more liabilities than benefits for employers. Employers may be well served to develop and enforce human resource policies that seek information directly from applicants, former employers and references instead of resorting to research tactics used by private investigators.

Ivie Law Firm can help you design and implement human resource policies and procedures to avoid unlawful discrimination, potential litigation and alienation of personnel. Call, email or use the Contact Form for additional information.



Nonprofits provide valuable services even in economically challenging times

Over 4000 new NC Nonprofits registered so far this year

In spite of the warnings posted on the NC Center for Nonprofit’s website that this is not a good time to form such entities, over 4000 new nonprofits have been registered so far this year with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Over 600 of those have their registered address in Wake County. Obviously, the warnings reflect a concern over further diluting the available resources that support of nonprofit entities. However, there remain good reasons to form nonprofits.

Nonprofits deliver needed programs, services, education, advocacy and faith based activities in North Carolina and provide over 425,000 jobs in the process. According to the NC Center for Nonprofits, that is approximately 1 out of every 9 jobs in the state. While nonprofits are tax-exempt, these employees pay income, sales and property taxes contributing over $38 billion to our state’s economy each year.

Forming a nonprofit requires particular steps, many of which the NC Center for Nonprofits advises should be supervised by an attorney and accountant. After organization and formation there are ongoing legal requirements for most nonprofits. Further, those who operate nonprofits as well as the board members who have a duty to oversee operations need to ensure that the nonprofit complies with the law and avoids avoid any conduct that might create legal liability.

While economic conditions should cause careful consideration of the benefits and liabilities associated with forming a new nonprofit, there remain valid reasons to do so. As federal, state and local governments face increased budget constraints, nonprofits and the resources they provide will become even more critical.

Whether dealing with issues of formation, organization, operation or compliance, Ivie Law Firm can provide the necessary legal services to make your nonprofit efficient and effective at achieving its defined mission. Contact Ivie Law for further details.

Homeless Crime

When Charity to the Homeless is a Crime

Local ministries run afoul of the law for feeding the homeless

Saturday morning, Raleigh failed to live up to a recent accolade – one of the most hospitable of America’s cities. In fairness, the accolade, touted on the  city’s website, was for services provided to guests. Raleigh showed that it doesn’t think of the homeless as guests and, worse, that it doesn’t really care if they go without food on the weekends.

Saturday and Sundays the homeless in downtown Raleigh have been fed by volunteer organizations for the past 6 years, as there are no other formal feeding programs in place on the weekends. The task has been shared by several different groups that carry food to Moore Square. One such group called Love Wins Ministries, led by Hugh Hollowell, was threatened with arrest Saturday morning after showing up with biscuits and coffee. Officially, according to Hollowell, the groups do not use the park but distribute food on the sidewalk bordering the park.

In spite of the distinction, police, who refused to cite the ordinance or explain the nature of the infraction, told the group that if they attempted to distribute the food Homelessthey had brought they would be arrested. City Code Section 9-2022 requires individuals or groups to secure a permit from the Parks, Recreation and Greenway Director, a position currently held by Diane Sauer, before distributing meals or food of any kind in or on any city park. As the term distribute is not defined, the same ordinance would appear to require a permit should a person purchase food, bring it to the park and distribute it among family members. For Love Wins Ministries and the other groups that have taken on this mission, the homeless are part of the family of God and feeding them is an act of obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ.

Regardless of the reasons for the heightened scrutiny, the manner in which this has been handled by the city and the police is embarrassing. The groups that have served the homeless each weekend for the past 6 years, to the city’s benefit and at their own expense, were not acting covertly. If the city feels a need to change this method of feeding the poor it should have had the decency to call these groups together and work out a viable alternative instead of creating a confrontation, intimidating citizens and threatening arrest

Raleigh can do better. I would encourage the City Council to persuade Ms. Sauer to waive all costs and issue whatever permits are required for as long as it takes to develop an alternative means of addressing the problem. In the meantime, perhaps the councilors would be well served to join in the effort and show a little bit of that hospitality for which the city is known.

You can find Love Wins Ministries blog about Saturday’s events HERE.

If your church or nonprofit needs legal advice or representation, Ivie Law Firm can help.

Courtroom not the only stage for local attorney

Raleigh Attorney warms to the spotlight of Community Theater.

By day, Amber Ivie practices law with the J. W. Bryant Law Firm located in downtown Raleigh. In that capacity she often finds herself in the courtroom before a jury of her client’s peers. By night, she likes to perform before another audience – the patrons of the Cary Players Community Theater Company.

Ms. Ivie has been cast in the upcoming production of Nunsense, a musical comedy that depicts a group of nuns in the midst of crisis trying to raise funds by staging a variety show. She will be playing the part of Sister Robert Anne who starts out as an understudy for the fundraiser but, through twist of fate or act Nunsenseof God, moves into a leading role. “Sister Robert Anne is a streetwise nun who is a bit of a pain for the Mother Superior,” Ms. Ivie notes. “She may not be the most polished nun in the convent, but she is genuine and compassionate.”

This is the fifth show in which Ms. Ivie has performed with the Cary Players. “In many ways this is like an extended family,” she observes. “The preparation and performance is time consuming, even exhausting, but you end up developing special relationships with those involved.”

At least one unusual aspect of Nunsense makes it similar to a courtroom trial, according to Ms. Ivie. “In the courtroom, a good attorney directs all statements to the jury. In most plays the audience is not acknowledged by the actors. They avoid breaking what is referred to as the fourth wall.” During Nunsense, however, actors speak directly to the audience, and “they become a part of the production in a way that you don’t see in most plays.”

The cast, staff and crew hope for a favorable verdict from those who attend the musical comedy. The Cary Players’ production of Nunsense runs for two weekends, September 27th through October 6th. Matinees are scheduled for Sunday afternoons at 3:00 p.m., and the shows on Friday and Saturday nights start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased in person at the Cary Arts Center, by phone at 800-514-3849 and online at