Justices agree subsidiaries are not new employers

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Emphasizing its ruling only deals with determining the proper merit rate for unemployment fund contributions, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled a manufacturer did not create employers through its new subsidiaries, so it wasn’t entitled to a lower rate.

In Franklin Electric Company, Inc. v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development, No. 93S02-1102-EX-89, Franklin Electric Co., which makes pumps, decided in 2002 to split the company into two new subsidiaries – one for manufacturing and one for sales. Franklin Electric retained 100 percent ownership in both entities while serving as corporate headquarters for the two.

An accounting firm believed that the two new subsidiaries would be eligible for a new unemployment insurance experience account with the rate of 2.7 percent. Franklin Electric’s experience rating was near 5 percent. The Department of Workforce Development investigated the company and determined that Franklin Electric didn’t “dispose of a distinct and segregable portion of its organization, trade, or business” and recalculated Franklin Electric’s merit rate. It demanded back payments, interest and a 10 percent penalty.

The liability administrative law judge affirmed the determination that the three entities were a single employer, but declined to impose penalties. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, and the justices also agreed with the LALJ’s determination.

The manufacturing and sales subsidiaries didn’t acquire a distinct and segregable portion of Franklin Electric’s business, so they didn’t qualify as “employers” under the laws governing unemployment compensation arrangements, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. The two subsidiaries combined formed essentially the same business as before the change –  Franklin Electric still does the payroll and provides benefits to all the companies, in addition to paying the workers’ compensation coverage for the entities.

“Today’s holding is a narrow one,” he wrote. “It deals only with the language ‘distinct and segregable’ as used in the unemployment statutes and only concerns determining the proper merit rate for unemployment contribution. The instant ruling neither calls into question the validity of the wholly owned subsidiary arrangement, nor holds that the creation of a wholly owned subsidiary can never result in the new entity becoming a separate employer.”

The justices agreed that imposing a penalty against Franklin Electric would be inappropriate because the company filed its reports to determine status in good faith based on advice from the accounting firm.



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  1. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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  3. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  4. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

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