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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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