Category Archives: Ethics

Employers Can Face Criminal Penalities

Ionia Management is a Greek company that manages a fleet of tanker vessels. The company was convicted of a crime and sentenced for its role in falsifying records to conceal the overboard dumping of waste oil from one of its vessels into international waters. The case is now on appeal to the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ionia Management says it was convicted based on the acts of rogue employees, who had been trained and repeatedly reminded of the company policy prohibiting the dumping but did it anyway. That leads us to the question of whether the company or its owners should face criminal fines and possibly jail for the acts of its subordinate employees. Or is civil liability in court more appropriate?

However you feel about criminal liability for corporate actions, in these post-Enron days, it is a fact of business. And as a employment lawyer, I feel compelled to point out a couple of the ways in which your employee relations can land you in criminal court. Continue reading Employers Can Face Criminal Penalities

How to be a Christian Employer

            I give legal advice to employers. That is my job. I can quote to you chapter and verse of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Family and Medical Leave Act.

But as my Christian faith has grown stronger, I often am asked to puzzle over chapters and verses of the Bible. I’m trying to understand how to incorporate my beliefs and those of some of clients into every manager’s legal obligations to not discriminate at work.

            It is easy for me to tell employers to never proselytize in the workplace because you might subject yourself to a religious discrimination or harassment claim.  But many Christians feel compelled to fulfill the Great Commission both inside and outside the workplace.

            So this column is my humble attempt to formulate more specific advice for my friends and clients that want to be able to both honor God and obey the anti-discrimination laws.

            If there is one piece of Christian advice I can give you, it is this: What do your employees see when they look at you, their boss? Do they see the fruits of the Holy Spirit –love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?

If you profess to be a Christian, is that evident in your speech, your supervision, your ethics and your relationships?

            Or do your employees see you worship one idol at work – profit – while attending church and claiming to worship Jesus Christ during your off hours? Continue reading How to be a Christian Employer

Privacy in the Workplace

            “Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds”. – John Perry Barlow


            I never liked working. To me a job is an invasion of privacy.” – Danny McGoorty


            I often encounter people who still believe they have a constitutional right of privacy in this country. Privacy is not addressed in the constitution. And in my opinion, the Patriot Act and the current administration’s domestic wiretapping program has eroded much of whatever small measure of privacy the common law and the courts used to give us.

            Privacy is even scarcer in the American workplace. Private corporations, businesses, stores, sole proprietorships, and other nongovernmental employers can and do invade their employees’ privacy on a daily basis as part of the normal course of business.

Continue reading Privacy in the Workplace

Ethics in Employment

            Some employers call my law office to find out what they can get away with legally: what loopholes in the law can they exploit or how can they get rid of an employee without taking the usual steps of giving the employee an opportunity to cure their performance problems.

            I am much more impressed by the employers I advise regularly, almost all of whom are just trying to do the right thing by their employees while earning a decent living for themselves.

            If I didn’t have an ethical requirement to keep my clients’ identities confidential, I would love to brag on the local company that doesn’t fire a person for the first failed drug test, but instead holds their job open while the employee completes rehab and then offers the worker one more chance.

            Or I could tell you about several clients of mine who voluntarily supplement the workers’ compensation wages benefit when an employee is hurt on the job so that the employee gets 100% of his wages while recovering rather than just the 70% paid by the workers’ compensation insurance.

Continue reading Ethics in Employment