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#32133 - 09/11/02 03:53 PM Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Anonymous
Unregistered

We have a committee here at the bank that is basically responsible for letting personnel know when someone in their branch or division is in the hospital, has a baby, etc. so the bank can respond accordingly. This committee also distributes funds to each location at Christmas time to use for a community service project. All of these activities are funded by the soda fund. Essentially we purchase soda for each location, up charge a little and the proceeds are used for these activities. This committee decided that they want to increase the amount of $$ they distribute for the Christmas project and didn't think the soda money would cover it, so they have put together a cookbook to sell. I don't really have a problem selling the cookbook within the bank to employees but this committee is mumbling about selling it to customers. I want to say NO that we can't (first of all, we are a really profitable bank and we are fund raising - how does that look?), but is that something that a national bank should not do?? Andy weigh in on this one!!

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General Discussion
#32134 - 09/11/02 04:01 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
rlcarey Offline
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rlcarey
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 79,628
Galveston, TX
First, I would not label anything as a "Christmas" project or you risk creating a hostile work environment for those of different beliefs. Second, there is nothing wrong with the bank creating or selling merchandise outside of the normal banking stuff - it's done all the time. Just make sure that you collect and properly report sales tax, etc. Telling anyone where the actual profits go is optional. On a person note - I think that it's tacky - unless you put together a really high class cookbook!
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#32135 - 09/11/02 04:07 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Betty Banker Offline
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Betty Banker
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 57
SD
Perhaps another thing to consider is whether or not your bank has a no-solicitation policy. If it does, would this project cause them to break their own policy?

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#32136 - 09/11/02 04:15 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Andy_Z Offline
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Andy_Z
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 27,502
On the Net
I am with rl on this. It isn't a lottery. We sell coins and such. But watch the taxes.

If I see a bake sale at Wal-Mart, I know I am supporting the scouts or kids trying to raise money for a band trip or something. I would not buy as much if it was for the Wal-Mart employees trying to raise money unless there was some catastrophe such as we had when Luby's was shot up. Normally I'd expect that for-profit entity to take care of its own. Perception is they'll charge me interest and fees and the best they can do as a corporate citizen is let employees sell something else? The cause, although worthy, takes a back seat.

Done right, this might fly, the bank (not the employee coke fund) matches, doubles, etc. the funds raised and state what it will be for. Otherwise the bank comes off looking really cheap, IMHO.
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#32137 - 09/11/02 04:16 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Anonymous
Unregistered

Wow, a very profitable bank upcharges its employees to pay for Christmas projects? Do the employees know about this scenario? Christmas, versus other days? There are all kinds or issues to consider here. I, for one, would not allow this to go on in a banking environment, given all of the discrimination, etc., issues that are involved. Has your HR department approved this method of funding community activities?

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#32138 - 09/11/02 04:29 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Anonymous
Unregistered

With all due respect rlcarey, I strenuously object to the idea that labeling a project a "Christmas project" will create a hostile work environment. If that's so, then doesn't the fact that your bank allows employees to have the day off on Christmas but not on other religious days create a hostile work environment? As far as I know, the use of the word "Christmas" has not yet been ruled unconstitutional, though I expect the Ninth Circuit will change that in the near future.

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#32139 - 09/11/02 04:51 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
rlcarey Offline
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rlcarey
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Posts: 79,628
Galveston, TX
I think the only saving grace regarding giving the day of Christmas off verses any other religious holiday in the United States is that it is a Federal Holiday. And, yes, I do think that something as benign as labeling bank sponsored projects as "Christmas" projects could contribute to a hostile work environment depending on other actions of surrounding employees and the employer. If the "committee" puts pressure on someone to participate in a "Christmas" project and they feel their job is threaten by not participating or that other employees begin to harass another employee for not participating, you have another nail in the coffin of having a hostile work environment. If you think that I am kidding, I believe the statistic that I recall is in the year 2000 there were 79,000 harassment claims and 19,000 had to do with the basis of religious beliefs.
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#32140 - 09/11/02 04:55 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Anonymous
Unregistered

I agree with rlcarey on this one. Several years ago we were called on the carpet by customers of other religious persuasions and since then we do not reference "Christmas" but instead use the term "Holidays". Sensitivity to this issue may be dictated by your customer base, but we have learned our lesson and try to be aware of the religious holidays of all our customers. We have been educating our employees as well and we have all learned a little bit more about other religions and cultures in the process.

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#32141 - 09/11/02 04:56 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Nanwa Offline
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Nanwa
Joined: Oct 2001
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Clintonville, WI, USA
I believe you can do any kind of fund raiser as long as it is not considered gambling. No raffle tickets!
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#32142 - 09/11/02 04:58 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Princess Romeo Offline

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Princess Romeo
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Posts: 8,272
Where the heart is
In my experience, while most people "unofficially" call an event a "Christmas Party", OFFICIALLY it is called a "Holiday Party" or "Seasonal Celebration."

Getting back to the first question, selling a compiled cookbook to the public does seem a bit tacky. You could probably position it for CRA Service and Investment credit, but you would have to go through a bunch of red tape to properly set it up, and in the end, how much $$ would you really raise?

An alternate thought would be to ask the various community projects if they would like to sell the cookbook as a fundraiser, and the bank would just DONATE the cookbooks and have the each service group sell them on their own.
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#32143 - 09/11/02 05:16 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Anonymous
Unregistered

Thanks for the input everyone! In my defense and that of the bank, we do call it a holiday project -- Christmas is just what spilled off of my white, anglo saxon Catholic fingertips. And, yes, I think it is tacky too --- if the employees in question had just asked for the increase in $$ it would have been granted but they instead started this project which just snowballed and didn't get to my attention until it was completed last week. It's hard to quell employee initiative - they are all very enthusiastic and this is a group of relatively lower level employees who are really excited about this.... I don't want to be the "big bad bank" but at the same time..... THANKS AGAIN.

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#32144 - 09/11/02 08:48 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
SMQ, CRCM Offline
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SMQ, CRCM
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Between the lines
Do all the employees at your bank think this is a wonderful project? While it sounds like it is a very worthy cause, it may not be well received by everyone.

This reminds me of a situation we had here years ago. Several well intentioned people were raising funds for different worthy causes throughout the year. On the one hand, certain employees felt pressured to contribute to every cause so as not to offend anyone yet this put a substantial financial burden on them; i.e. school fund raisers, girl scout cookies, seasonal (i.e. Christmas) fund raising, family disasters, not to mention, weddings, baby showers, etc. This really got out of hand when memos were sent to everyone about a baby shower or other event where many people did not even know the person involved. We finally had to put a stop to all of it and we heard from a lot of employees that were grateful to have the pressure removed.

On the other hand, what do your customers think about it? The first time they have to wait in a line and they see employees working on recipes or talking about recipes; they won't be too happy about the service they are getting. If this is such a big, enthusiastic plan; I bet a lot of it is going on at the bank instead of bank related work (or maybe you have the luxury of being overstaffed).

While it may be too late to do anything about this project, I think it is tacky and will very likely be misunderstood by the public. I vote for management addressing this before the next project gets rolling.
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#32145 - 09/11/02 09:02 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
zaibatsu Offline
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Posts: 6,153
It should also be emphasized that the Establishment Clause has absolutely no bearing on private employers. Private employers often attempt to justify their discriminatory treatment of religious employees by quoting the phrase "separation of church and state." Even if this phrase were the law, and it is not, it would not require private employees to have religion-free work environments. Private people or companies are not the government and therefore can never violate the Establishment Clause
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#32146 - 09/11/02 11:53 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Sponge Steve Offline
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Sponge Steve
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 299
Midwest
I think a single cookbook sale would not bring the wrath of the regulators down on you but if you suddenly decided to become a bookstore you can count on the regulators telling you your charter was for the business of banking, not the retailing of books. Walmart can't directly be in the banking business, we can't be in the retail business. It would be a long stretch to conclude the selling of books is akin to banking. If so, what next, gas and tires in the drive-up?

That said, unless you have some cooks of reknown on staff that will be sharing their recipes I can't see this being a very successful venture. Is the public really going to buy a cookbook for the benefit of the bank employees? Tacky.

Let's say you go ahead with it. The only reg that I can think of that would come in play would be RESPA (other than the powers in your charter). You certainly don't want those cookbooks sitting at the mortgage desk with the implied message, "Buy this book and it'll help you get approved or we'll cut some costs."
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#32147 - 09/12/02 01:27 AM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
JacF Offline

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Zaibatsu-
I just want to say a big AMEN! to your post!

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#32148 - 09/12/02 01:01 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
rlcarey Offline
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rlcarey
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 79,628
Galveston, TX
zaibatsu - I don't know that anyone implied that the Establishment Clause was a basis for this discussion. If anyone received that impression from me, it was far from what I intended.
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#32149 - 09/12/02 02:10 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Anonymous
Unregistered

No, but Lee S mentioned the constitution:

In reply to:

As far as I know, the use of the word "Christmas" has not yet been ruled unconstitutional, though I expect the Ninth Circuit will change that in the near future.




I just wanted to clarify that the constitution is not involved here.

For those of you who practice a particular religion, there is an organization run by Christians that helps those whose religious liberties are being trampled by private businesses, schools, or government. You can find it at ACLJ. It also has a FAQ section that can help you in answering religion at public schools and in the workplace type questions. Or if you feel your rights are being violated, call them. It is an answer to the ACLU which seems to want to piece by piece take religion out of the public and force it into caves. It will likely try to hunt out the caves to stop it there too. And then it will rewrite our nation's history to erase any sign that any religion was ever practiced here.

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#32150 - 09/12/02 03:26 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Lucy Griffin Offline

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Lucy Griffin
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 1,544
As I read these posts, I can't help but thinking of the expression "cooking the books." Does your bank really want someone (like me) to think that up relative to this project?

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#32151 - 09/12/02 07:50 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
RVFlyboy Offline
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RVFlyboy
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,980
Soaring over Georgia
Thanks for this link - sounds like a good organization. Actually from this link on the ACLJ website, it looks like the 9th Circuit maybe got one right for a change!
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#32152 - 09/12/02 08:05 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
rlcarey Offline
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rlcarey
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 79,628
Galveston, TX
Careful Jim, publicly endorsing a ruling like that in this forum may create a hostile website environment for some.

OK guys - it's a joke - lighten up a little - it's almost Friday!
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#32153 - 09/12/02 08:59 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
HRH Dawnie Offline
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HRH Dawnie
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 7,353
Anchorage Alaska
I may be completely confused here, but I believe this forum is NOT a place to discuss your religious views, nor to promote websites which do so. Sensitivity to the fact that we may be of many religious faiths or none, is necessary in a productive business environment. The advise to not term the project "Christmas" was well intentioned in an open society where we have people of many faiths and beliefs who might find the term "Christmas" offensive. It's good advice for a bank to follow as there have been many suits brought up in regards to the issue. Being in the compliance world, that subject was very worthwhile and well fitted to this forum.

We're looking out for the best interests of our respective employers by using this forum for assistance with compliance related issues. Please keep the religious arguments and promotions for another forum where they many more properly benefit the audience.


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#32154 - 09/12/02 09:24 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
zaibatsu Offline
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Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 6,153
I am editing this post with this bold prelude because I just read all of the post on this thread and find it hard to believe that Dawnie would find anything in the discussion the least bit offensive or promoting of a particular religion. Dawnie, I respect others rights and are sensitive to them, but like Patrick Henry, I would die for my liberties and one of them is to speak of and about my religion in the marketplace--which I really did not do here. Please explain to me how this thread was the least bit inappropriate or offensive.

I do not believe that the religious beliefs you speak of were discussed in this forum in any offensive manner. I also do not think anyone made a religious argument or promotion. (The mere fact that someone takes offense to a posting that involves religion does not de facto make the post offensive--it may instead reflect an intolerence or hypersensitivity of the reader.)

I did disparage the ACLU's (a non-religious organization) treatment of religion. The ACLU is a fair target for this forum as their attorney's could have any bank as a target of a lawsuit--I just happen to disagree with them 99% of the time. I did not make a religious promotion, defense, or argument.

We can't expect a person to shed their religion when they walk in the door of their workplace any more than we can expect them to do so in an online discussion.

I assume you did not link to the ACLJ, right? I believe that I made it clear that it was a Christian organization--I did not trick anyone into going to their web site. There certainly is religious and political and constitutional argument and promotion there. If you chose not to link to that, then you did not see anything blatantly religious. If you think you did, it was by choice I assume.

The ACLJ, though a Christian organization, has a lot of good information for anwering what the law is about religious expressions in the workplace and other places. Yes, they are expressly protecting "Christians" from invasions of their rights--including those rights protected by the Establishment Clause (particularly in public schools where the Establishment Clause is obviously misunderstood by many).

Anyone with a problem with any religious expression in the workplace, needs to get a job were they can work at home and not have any phone, email, fax, or other communication with others. Until then, they will have to "tolerate" and be "sensitive" to the fact that our religion does not end at the door of our workplace or at the keyboard to our computer.

If the moderators disagree with me, they can remove my posts.
Last edited by zaibatsu; 09/12/02 09:40 PM.
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#32155 - 09/12/02 09:33 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
Anonymous
Unregistered

ustabiaz - I sure am glad that I've basically stayed out of this thread - BOL should be a no religion and no politics site - private email is the best place for most of these posts.

Now please, please - I'm no taking a position on any of these issues. By the way, I'm thinking of showing up is Texas some day.

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#32156 - 09/12/02 09:35 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
zaibatsu Offline
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Posts: 6,153
Vegan2--step away from the keyboard and no one gets hurt.
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#32157 - 09/12/02 11:08 PM Re: Am I breaking the law? or some regulation?
David Dickinson Offline
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David Dickinson
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 18,762
Central City, NE
In reply to:

BOL should be a no religion and no politics site




Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't wear my religion on my sleeve. My religion is a deep conviction that bubbles out in all of my actions. Many people hope that I not let my faith guide some of my actions so that they can cry "hypocrite!"

Instead, my religion is presented in all my actions - including my posts on BOL.
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