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Nonprofit Law/Discrimination and Non-profit


Our Senior Center has discriminated against a man because of his religion. Is the Senior Center at risk for losing their non-profit status?  Which agency do you report discrimination to? Thanks

If the Senior Center has 501(c)(3) organization status with the IRS it indeed risks losing that exemption status. In a case about racial discrimination, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote:
--- Start of Excerpt ---
Section 501(c)(3) therefore must be analyzed and construed within
the framework of the Internal Revenue Code and against the
background of the congressional purposes. Such an examination
reveals unmistakable evidence that, underlying all relevant parts
of the Code, is the intent that entitlement to tax exemption
depends on meeting certain common-law standards of charity -
namely, that an institution seeking tax-exempt status must serve a
public purpose and not be contrary to established public policy.
--- End of Excerpt ---
Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983)

Federal law treats discrimination on the basis of religion in the same way as it treats discrimination on the basis of race. Complaints to the IRS regarding Exempt Organizations are discussed
A referral of an exempt organization may be made by submitting Form
13909, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint

The man who was discriminated against could have a claim with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission on the basis of state law. They have the relevant state law links at

I would willing to answer a follow-up as to the State issues if the man is interested in filing a claim with the State, but, first I would need to know if the Senior Center receives funding from either the State or a municipality. After you give me that information I will reply further, if he is willing to file a claim.

Harvey Mechanic, Attorney at Law -
Member of New York Bar, Not Ohio Bar(although I spent my first 18 years in Shaker Heights and graduated from Shaker Height High School)

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.  

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Harvey Mechanic


I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

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