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Organizational Development

The Employer Bill of Rights

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jonhymanAccording to Liz Ryan, writing at “Actual employee rights in the U.S. are fairly limited.” She posits that because “it’s legal to make hiring and termination decisions for random (nondiscriminatory) reasons” (such as an employee’s favorite sports team), employees need a “Bill of Rights” to protect themselves.

After nearly 15 years representing employers in workplace disputes, the one conclusion that I can reach with absolute certainty is that American employees do not lack workplace rights. There is a veritable alphabet soup of laws that protects employees:


  • 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

The only group in the country that lacks workplace rights is employers. We are the marginalized and the unprotected, living in fear of making any personnel decisions because they might result in expensive lawsuits. Employers, I feel your pain, and present the

Employer Bill of Rights:

  1. The Right to Hire on Qualifications: 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.
  2. The Right to Fire on Performance: We also want the right to fire without the fear of an expensive lawsuit when you fail to perform. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 of the bargain and accept the consequences if you don’t.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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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Jon Hyman joined Cleveland-based Kohrman Jackson & Krantz in 2006. Prior to joining KJK, Jon developed nearly a decade of experience in innumerable litigation matters. He primarily concentrates his practice in the representation of companies in employment disputes, including litigation with terminated employees and disputes over trade secrets and non-competition agreements. He supplements his employment practice with complex commercial matters, such as fiduciary and shareholder litigation. His representation extends beyond the courtroom, into various state and federal administrative agencies.

Complementing his litigation practice, Jon also extensively advises individuals and companies on a wide-range of employment, human relations, and litigation issues. This role frequently requires Jon’s service as an author and speaker on myriad employment-related issues. In the last several years, he has written and spoken on topics ranging from social media, preventing and investigating sexual harassment, other forms of employment discrimination, the Family Medical Leave Act, wage and hour laws, and corporate document retention.

Jon is admitted to practice in the State of Ohio, in addition to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Ohio, Southern District of Ohio, the Northern District of Oklahoma, and Northern District of Illinois, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Jon is the author of the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, where he writes daily on areas of interest to employers doing business in the State of Ohio and beyond. The blog is located at You can also find Jon commenting on employment law issues on Twitter (@jonhyman) and on the Facebook Page for his blog

Jon has also been extensively quoted in the local and national media on employment matters, including recent interviews in the Wall Street Journal, National Law Journal, Business Insurance Magazine, Crain’s Cleveland Business, Inside Counsel, and Lawyer’s USA. Jon also serves as a contributing editor to Business Management Daily, and is the editor of its HR Specialist Ohio Employment Law Newsletter.

Superlawyers named Jon an Ohio Rising Star in the area of Employment Law for 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

The author of this post, Jon Hyman, has expanded it into a book, aptly titled, The Employer Bill of Rights: A Manager’s Guide to Workplace Law. The book is a practical guide designed to help managers and business owners navigate the ever-changing maze of labor and employment laws, rules, and regulations. It scheduled to be released on November 21 and currently is available for pre-order at Amazon (



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