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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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