Apples are wonderful, but it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. The same can be said of employees. Most are wonderful, well-intentioned contributors to a culture of success.However, one employee acting irresponsibly can cause a great deal of harm to any organization. For example, take the recent case of Pennsylvania State University and their former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.For the few people in the country unfamiliar with this tragedy, Jerry Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing several boys. Most were abused inside of campus buildings, which is not only horribly tragic, but put the university itself under legal fire. According to Chad Hemenway of Property Casualty 360, Penn State finds itself now sorting through multiple settlements for Sandusky’s victims.
If ever you’ve been present at a high school graduation, religious service, or third-grade spelling bee, you will have undoubtedly noticed a trend on the part of those speaking. The trend is to define the term on which they wish to focus their remarks by turning to Webster or Oxford or whatever dictionary they have closest at hand and then reading the precise definition. It’s an age-old practice that’s as annoying as it is predictable.Individual liability: A financial obligation for which an individual is responsible and which may be satisfied out of his or her assets (Business Dictionary).So why is individual liability of any concern to you, you ask? Well, allow me to ask you two basic questions:
Have you ever been summoned for jury duty?  Well, let me tell you a little about it.  You HAVE to go; no if, and, or buts about it.You are sometimes allowed to reschedule, but you’ve still got to do your time.  Missing work, school, birthdays, weddings, or whatever it may be is inconvenient to say the least.  What if the case continues on for weeks or even months?  Now can you imagine if you weren’t on the jury, but were the defendant?!  It can happen easier than one might think, especially for all you professionals out there.Thinking that you’re completely protected from lawsuits is a rather naïve assumption, especially nowadays.  Recent trends in court decisions have been holding HR practitioners, supervisors, business owners, and other decision-makers personally liable for their actions under several employment laws.
Frivolous litigation is essentially lawsuits that have no legal merit - no legal sense – and usually little chance of being won. These kinds of cases typically seem so ridiculous that most people can’t help but snicker when they hear about them; like suing the restaurant where you dropped your coffee on yourself and got burned.Other examples of such trivial pursuits include football fans who sued referees, fathers prepared to litigate over their fifteen-year-olds’ positions on high school athletic teams, a purchaser of Cracker Jacks who demanded damages for a missing prize, and a McDonald’s customer who sought $15,000 for damage to his teeth and marital relations caused by a defective bagel.
Every business knows it has to watch its bottom line, its profit margins, its vendor relationships, its break even points, and its fixed and variable costs. And at night when the world finally goes quiet, good employers are still thinking about their quarterly goals and their fiscal projections.But according to 2010 statistics what should actually be keeping employers up at night is how liable their company is to litigation. And not only their company, but themselves, personally.Statistics released by the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) show that record-breaking discrimination charges were filed in 2010 on behalf of US employees. The increase marked a 7.1% growth over 2009, and the highest number since 1965. Retaliation claims were up 7.9% over 2009. Disabilities discrimination claims were up 17%. Racial discrimination claims were up 6.9%. And the list goes on.