In Employee Relations, It's Good to Be a B.A.D. Employer

Article excerpt

Are you a B.A.D. employer? You should be, according to Arthur Angel, an Oklahoma City attorney with the law firm of Abel, Musser, Sokolosky and Associates.

Angel is referring to the acronym he created for the type of analysis an employer should undertake to determine whether an employee will have grounds for a legal action in an employment case. Additionally, Angel expounded on other aspects of adverse actions taken by employers against employees.

First of all, the B stands for "Basis." Angel defines this as the "motivation, object, or purpose" of the action taken. He points out that illegal adverse actions are taken on the basis of discrimination in the areas of race, creed, religion, national origin, age, sex or handicapped status. The aspect of basis also contemplates action taken which is against an established public policy, such as violation of the right or duty of serving on a jury.

The A stands for "Action." The action could be termination, demotion, denial of promotion, forced resignation, pay cuts, denial of benefits where all other employees enjoy or retain the same benefits, physical or verbal abuse, and negative evaluations.

Finally, the D stands for "Damages." This is the harm which the employee has endured, which may include loss of back pay or future pay, opportunities for promotion, emotional distress, damage to one's reputation, and other similar injuries. Angel adds that other situations to watch are use of drug and polygraph testing and mandatory noncomplete agreements. These serve to limit or prevent an employee from earning a living, if not handled in such a way as to avoid a challenge in court.

The best way to minimize the possibility of a lawsuit from an employee is to be honest and forthright in employment practices and examine all employment and hiring practices for potential problem areas. The law does not abandon the employer to capricious legal actions by the employee. For example, in states where employment is "at will," the employer may terminate the employee at will, absent a contract or prescribed rules for termination, as long as the termination is for a legally valid reason ( and not for a legally prohibited reason). …