"I'll bet you're looking forward to that passing, right?" he said.
"Actually, no," I replied.
He was flabbergasted. "Why not?" he said.
"Well," I replied, "If they pass such legislation, someone could sue me for discriminating against them for being straight."
But I digress again, somewhat.
Since those bad old days, a lot of factories in the Northeast and Midwest have closed. And new, non-union factories have sprung up in the South - in "Right to Work" states where unions are weakened. Even the hourly employees are starting to realize that "having it your way all the time" in the long run means you have no job. Plus, many were disgusted as I was that the union would protect slackers and idiots and people who would punch a foreman. They got tired of carrying the dead weight.
But over the years, we have enacted more and more laws, some at the State level, some at the Federal level that, although they have the best of intentions tend to make it harder and harder to be an employer.
Yes, it would be great if people weren't jerks and if they didn't discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, race, color, or even sexual orientation. But with each new class of "protected persons" you add to the list, you create a new cause of action under which employees may sue.
What is a cause of action?
Under the law, in order to bring a lawsuit, you have to have some legal grounds to do so. This is the cause of action. And so long as there is a colorable claim, then someone can bring a suit, even if you and I would think it is specious. The facts may weigh against the employee, but so long as they allege facts that fit a particular cause of action they can bring suit, and you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars defending it.
You see, under Federal Rule 11(b), an attorney is not supposed to bring frivolous claims to court. Well, here, read it for yourself:
(b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper—whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and
In today's crazy world, the only thing you can say is that so-and-so worked for you from X date to Y date, end of story. Similarly, if you are sued by an employee, they can say horrific things about you in the press, but you have to keep your mouth shut, as employment details are confidential. You can only answer these claims in court, and odds are, you will never get your day in court.
Speaking of absolutism, enter drug-testing. One of the few things an employer is allowed to do anymore is utterly humiliate their employees by making them pee in a cup. Not only is this one of the few ways left to screen employees, the employer is at risk of a lawsuit if they fail to drug-screen their prospective employees. If some employee fucks up, and someone is hurt, well, if they test positive for drugs, guess whose fault it is? Yea, yours.
So if your employer does drug tests, don't castigate them as "mean" because they might not have a choice in the matter. Their insurance company may be forcing them to do so. Welcome to our crazy new world - run by lawyers.
But of course, that all falls on deaf ears today. Some young folks postulate that "a job is a right!" but fail to understand that no one is obligated to hire anyone. Something can't be a "right" unless there is an unlimited supply of it. And increasingly, employers are avoiding hiring people because it is such a sticky nightmare.
Maybe the new administration will ease up on employment rules and laws. When you have more discretion in hiring and firing - and setting wages - and when regulations are fewer, hiring doesn't seem like such a frightening proposition.
But until that changes, well, you couldn't pay me enough to hire anyone.