To Sue or Not To Sue That Is the Question!

I apologize for this horrible paraphrase of Shakespeare, but recent events have me thinking about using the courts to hold people accountable for their actions. The Market is a wonderful mechanism for buyers and sellers to meet and conduct commerce. The picture I have of this process is two people meeting under a palm tree to exchange goods for money. The sellers are under the tree with their papaya while the buyers are there to purchase fruit to meet their own needs. Adam Smith recognizes this as self-interest. This self-interest drives the market as an invisible hand.

When this transaction becomes asymmetric one of the parties then has an unfair advantage over another. This is usually when the government gets involved. Generally this has worked well. I don’t think anyone would be adverse to the prosecution of Bernie Madoff for his Ponzi scheme. Or, I don’t think anyone is hostile to the prosecution of Martha Stewart for insider trading. The third area of agreement for prosecution is sexual harassment. Whether it is Quid Pro Quo or a hostile work environment, the fact is there needs to be a process of accountability.

But now I want to raise another possibility, what about a manager that tells an employee they don’t need a job because they have a spouse? And then lays them off. Or if a manager does not like the political or religious views of an employee and causes that employee’s work life to be horrible? What should be done in those cases? Should the employee sue?

Scripture tells us that a  workman is worthy of his wages. If management then takes those wages away because of personal disagreements, etc, then what is the recourse for the employee? Scripture is very clear that believers are not to sue one another, but what about a believer and a company they have worked at for a quarter of a century? With the aging workforce this will be more of an issue.

The baby-boomers as a demographic have positive characteristics and many negative ones. Generally as a group they have not saved well, so as retirement looms on the horizon many are not ready. Therefore, these individuals, that typically hold the higher paying jobs in our economy, are staying on longer than some companies would like. Many of these companies want to introduce change, and recognize the older employees will be more resistant. As these companies become more creative in their endeavors to get rid of the aging employee they will find themselves in the courts more frequently. Is this good or bad? Only time will tell.

And that’s my thought for the day!

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