Smart Employers Are Proactive

Smart employers proactively address any workplace harassment or discrimination complaints before they result inAdministrative complaints or lawsuits. Sometimes it’s the most angry employee that files the lawsuit, not the employee who is the most likely to win in court.

Harassment and Discrimination Suits Require a Protected Group

An employee’s best chance of success in a discrimination or harassment case occurs when the discrimination or harassment is attributable to the employee’s status as a member of a protected group. A protected group could be fairly described as a group of people qualified for special protection by a law, policy, or similar authority. For example, U.S. federal law protects individuals from discrimination or harassment based on sex, race, age, disability, color, creed, national origin or religion. In many cases, state laws also give certain protected groups special protection against harassment and discrimination. The key here is the person must be part of a protected group. If the boss is discriminating against or harassing the employee because the employee is a Democrat, a Republican, a Kim Kardashian fan, a “FloMo,” a “Pactard,” or the only person in the office who thinks O.J. is innocent, then the harassment case isn’t going anywhere – even if you are represented by Lisa Bloom and Gloria Allred.

I recently watched an interesting speech that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg delivered for TED Talks.  Sandberg provides the following advice for those women who are interested in having children and staying in the workforce: (1) sit at the table; (2) make your partner a real partner; and (3) don’t leave before you leave.

This would be a great speech to watch with your team, take notes, and then discuss.

Broad vs. Narrow Mission Statements for Nonprofit Organizations

A non-profit organization’s mission statement is that organization’s statement of its reason for being. It is important that those who are in leadership positions within the organization understand its mission, because deviating from the mission can expose the organization and its leaders to legal liability.

When creating (or updating) a mission statement, the directors must consider whether they are going to adopt a broad or narrow mission statement.  Some directors (and counsel for directors) recommend a very broad mission statement.  The rationale is that a broad mission statement presents a lower risk that someone acting on behalf of the organization will have his or her actions voided for being outside the purpose of the organization.  Also, if the board of directors uses a broad mission statement, then it is less likely that the board will have to amend the articles and/or bylaws at a later date so that the directors’ actions are in line with the organization’s mission.

Although there are good reasons to use broad mission statements, a narrow mission statement might make more sense for an organization.  The rationale for using a narrow mission statement is that using such a mission statement will help ensure that the organization knows what its purpose is.  Moreover, future boards may be less likely to stray from the organization’s original purpose if they know exactly what that purpose is.

Whether the directors choose a broad mission statement or a narrow one, they may need to consider updating IRS filings, amending their formation documents (e.g., articles of incorporation), and amending their operating documents (e.g., bylaws) if the organization’s mission is not in line with the organization’s current activities.