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The Employer’s Bill of Rights

Monday, February 20, 2012

“Actual employee rights in the U.S. are fairly limited,” in the words of’s Liz Ryan. “It’s legal to make hiring and termination decisions for random (nondiscriminatory) reasons,” she says—such as an employee’s favorite sports team or sexual preference—and because of that, employees need a “Bill of Rights” to protect themselves in the workplace.

Jon Hyman at the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog believes that American employees do not lack workplace rights, and offers this list of laws protecting workers:

  • Title VII: race, color, religion, sex, and national origin
  • PDA: pregnancy
  • ADEA: age
  • ADA and ADAAA: disability
  • GINA: genetic information
  • USERRA: returning veterans
  • FMLA: family leave
  • FLSA: minimum wage, overtime, and child labor
  • ERISA: benefits
  • COBRA: continuing health coverage
  • OSHA: safety
  • NLRA: labor
  • FCRA: background checks
  • WARN: plant closings

Hyman writes that the only group in the United States lacking workplace rights is YOU, the employers. Backed into a legal corner where almost any personnel decision carries the possibility (if not the threat) of costly legal action, today’s employer can often be left feeling unprotected. Ohio employers’ rights do exist, however – and it’s important that you know them.

Mr. Hyman offers The Employer’s Bill of Rights:

  • The Right to Hire on Qualifications and Fire on Performance: We want to be able to hire a white male under the age of 40 without fear of a lawsuit from every protected class we did not hire. We want to be able to fire without the fear of an expensive lawsuit when you fail to perform.
  • The Right to Criticize: Every performance review is not an attempt to push you out the door. Believe it or not, every employee we hire represents an investment by us. We want that investment to bear a substantial return. Criticism is meant be a constructive attempt to help you improve, not a destructive set-up for you to fail.
  • The Right to Control Operations: We know how many people we need to employ, how many shifts we need to run, and how many facilities we need to operate. Most importantly, we know what can afford to remain profitable. If we have to shutter or relocate a plant, lay people off, or furlough hours, it’s not because we are discriminating against you; it’s because it’s necessary for us to remain open and able to employ anyone at all.
  • The Right for You to Follow Our Work Rules: We do not distribute handbooks and other policies because we like destroying trees. We do so because we think every relationship needs to be guided by a set of expectations under which each side is supposed to operate. All we ask is that you live up to your end and accept the consequences when you fail.
  • The Right to Be Told When There is a Problem: We cannot fix workplace problems if the first we hear about them is when a lawsuit is served. Help us help you by letting us know if you think you’re being discriminated against, retaliated against, paid incorrectly, or otherwise being treated unfairly. If you’re right we’ll fix it. Right or wrong, we won’t hold it against you.
  • The Right to Receive an Honest Day’s Work: When you are at work, we ask that you reasonably dedicate yourself to the tasks at hand. It’s only fair; after all, we are paying you for your services.
  • The Right to Have Our Say Before You Form a Union: We recognize your right as employees to form a union if that’s the collective choice of your majority. Just hear us out and let us have our say on why it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and may not be in your best interest.
  • The Right to Reasonable Notice: We understand that certain laws (the ADA and the FMLA, for example) provide employees rights to certain accommodations, which we follow. In return, we merely ask that when possible, you not wait until the last minute to request an accommodation or a leave of absence. It wreaks havoc with our scheduling and operations.
  • The Right to Be Treated With Respect: Businesses need respect too. We expect that you will demonstrate that respect to us and your fellow employees by showing up on time, not passing off to others that which you can (and should) do yourself, not waiting until the last minute to schedule your vacation, and generally treating others as you would want to be treated.
  • The Right to Confidentiality: We expect you will not share internal workplace issues with the outside world, whether they are our trade secrets or other proprietary information, or the day-to-day goings-on inside our company.


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