The Two Questions You Should Ask Before Making Any Employment Decision
1. “Can you?” As a conscientious employer aware of the complicated web of employment laws, you probably focus heavily on whether an action is lawful. Committing an unlawful action – even by accident – can be very costly for employers. (See this month’s article on Novartis’ $99 million settlement!) Consulting with an attorney in your approach to employment decisions can prevent major missteps. Despite the importance of the “Can you?” question, it should not be the end of your analysis. Merely having the legal right to do something does not mean it is the wisest course of action.
2. “Should you?” Employers must focus on more than just the legality of their actions. A good business decision also makes financial, ethical, and reputational sense. If employees feel an action was unfair, they may sue and cost the company legal expenses, even though the action was lawful. Winning in court still costs money. Many a baseless case are settled to avoid lost time and legal fees. Moreover, if the public feels an action was unfair, they may boycott the company and turn the issue into a national human interest story.
Businesses cannot ensure that every decision they make is a popular one, nor should they all be. But increasingly, the public is using both traditional media and social media to express their views on business decisions. Asking that critical second question can save employers from experiencing an unexpected public relations nightmare.
Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying and remaining up to date with state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.965.0560.