No say in wage, no way with wage
February 7, 2007 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Non-ProfitFilter: My non-profit is not allowed to set its own salaries and that is instead done at the discretion of the a non-profit we rent from here in Maryland. Is this kind of rule legal?

For the rent and fees we get payroll help, check and credit card services and a nice community.
The downside is that I have no say in how wage increases are negotiated or a way to vote for them once they are.

I recently got a raise that has a rather meaningless impact on my paycheck and does not consider the amount of money I have raised or increase in the amount of work I do. Is it legal for one non-profit to put such a rule on a tenant non-profit?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total)
Sure, why not?
posted by raf at 4:23 PM on February 7, 2007

(IAAL, but this is not legal advice.)
posted by raf at 4:23 PM on February 7, 2007

Why wouldn't it be legal?

The downside is that I have no say in how wage increases are negotiated or a way to vote for them once they are.

How convenient for your employer. Perhaps you should consider starting a union, or going elsewhere.
posted by grouse at 4:29 PM on February 7, 2007

In my experience, non-profits often rely on this sort of "you're working for the cause, you'll take what we give you" mentality to pay people far less than what they're really worth, and will not hesitate to foist the blame off on someone else if they think they can get away with it.
posted by mattly at 4:40 PM on February 7, 2007

It sounds like your non-profit agreed to these terms when they elected to lease from and accept services from your "landlord" non-profit. If these terms are in the lease, and a authorized representative of your non-profit signed and agreed, I can't see how it is illegal.

Was it a wise move, who knows...illegal, probably not. IANAL but I am the director of a nonprofit agency (albeit in a different state)
posted by HuronBob at 4:41 PM on February 7, 2007

Are you working for a PIRG or something?
posted by footnote at 4:58 PM on February 7, 2007

Is the non-profit that you rent from just your landlord? If so, that would be really weird for them to set your salaries.

Instead, are they more than that? Are they your Fiscal Sponsor? If they are your fiscal sponsor it means that your organization is not a full-fledged tax-exempt non-profit, but instead gets its non-profit status by piggy-backing on the non-profit status of another organization. In this situation, the sponsor is required to make sure that you follow responsible non-profit procedures, which would include things like not being profligate with donor money.

The other possibility, as raised by footnote, is that you are actually part of a larger borg collective and in fact "your non-profit" is just really a department in a large conglomerate.

As others have said, if the honor and glory is not enough for you, you should consider looking elsewhere. I say that as someone who is living close to the bone because my job actually lets me do good and so for some time I've been willing to live with really bad pay. I just don't want to give up the opportunity to make a difference.
posted by alms at 5:07 PM on February 7, 2007

You can put just about anything you want in a contract. A contract between a business and a consumer is limited by consumer protection laws. But a contract between two corporations is pretty much only limited in that you can't require the other party to do something that's illegal.

Or: The law, in theory at least, defines what is right and fair. Contracts are for defining a relationship differently than the law would otherwise define it. Therefore all contracts are unfair.
posted by winston at 5:19 PM on February 7, 2007

Therefore all contracts are unfair.

That's ridiculous.
posted by grouse at 5:24 PM on February 7, 2007

Contracts are for creating relationships where otherwise the law would say there were none. All parties to a contract have the right to refuse to enter into it, to decline to renew it, or to exit it according to the terms set in the contract or defined by the law. The consent of the parties is what makes them "fair."

By agreeing to work for your employer, you have entered into a relationship with them that is bound by the terms of their relationship with the larger nonprofit. You can try to convince your company to sever that relationship, try to convince the larger nonprofit to allow your company to modify its terms, or you can sever your relationship with your employer and find a new job.
posted by decathecting at 6:17 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Therefore all contracts are unfair.

This makes absolutely no sense and fundamentally misunderstands the role of contracts (think of it as "private law"). And in answer to the OP, "yes, this is generally legal."
posted by Falconetti at 7:07 PM on February 7, 2007

I vigorously second the notion that you should get out if you feel you're not being compensated fairly. There's no reason to be a martyr for an organization, no matter how worthy the cause. If you're a really good fundraiser, you should be able to find plenty of better jobs in the public or private sector.
posted by footnote at 6:07 AM on February 8, 2007

Sorry. The "all contracts are unfair" bit was supposed to be humour.
posted by winston at 7:50 PM on February 10, 2007

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