Thursday, September 29, 2011

Litigation Breeding 101

Which option is taken by many organizations?

  1. Train managers and supervisors on how to address sensitive personnel issues.

  2. Follow-up that training with brief reviews of the subjects at staff meetings.

  3. Periodically review personnel practices and job standards to make sure they are defensible.

  4. Wait until a lawsuit is filed and then spend a bundle of money trying to resolve a dispute that could have been prevented.

[Answer: 4.]


At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

It all comes down to the ideology of not spending money you don't have too. Risk management is not something people seem to understand. Also the biggest hurdle to overcome is decentralised budgets, where a departmental manager for say training/HR will not spend the money from their budget, and the lawsuit budget comes out of somebody else's bucket of money. Where we rate people on KPI's that are about their individual performance we fail to realise they are part of a bigger machine.....Humm, I should get a new job.

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


It is the Pearl Harbor Mentality: wait until something blows up and then declare, "We need to do something about that."


At 8:38 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

Everything becomes clear in the rear view mirror of hindsight.

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous CincyCat said...

True, true, true. I'm dealing with this exact situation in the non-profit where I recently was elected chair of the board. The series of totally preventable misteps is mind-boggling in our case. It wasn't a matter of hindsight, either. The non-profit's policies clearly stated what was supposed to take place, but the person who handled the separation completely disregarded them. When the former employee requested a grievance meeting (again, per existing policy), he was ignored. Totally a "100% should have known better" situation.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


It gets back to the old rule: Do what you say you will do.


At 3:10 PM, Anonymous CincyCat said...

I will also let you know that on this point, I've taken your advice to heart.

My suspicion is that this situation came about mostly because of ignorance of the potential repercussions of their actions rather than outright negligence. It just never occured to the former board that something like this could happen...

So, with that thought in mind, I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon researching low- or no-cost non-profit board coaching and training resources (our budget sits on the edge of a razor blade), including those offered by our state Attorney General's offices.

We're going to discuss this in October's board meeting.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


It's a pity you're not in Arizona. I'd put in a training/coaching proposal!

You should be able to find some reasonably priced local resources. Some employment attorneys may be able to help or point you in the right direction.

Not fun but it's an important issue to tie down. I see organizations that get into trouble because of a complete lack of awareness of the danger zones. They innocently walk into swamps.

Take care and watch out for the alligators!



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