Last week I reported on Wal-Mart's lawsuit against a brain damaged ex-employee for the reimbursement of her health care costs. As of this morning, Wal-Mart has relented and will not pursue the collection of its costs. CNN.com quotes the letter Wal-Mart sent to the family: "We wanted you to know that Wal-Mart will not seek any reimbursement for the money already spent on Ms. Shank's care, and we will work with you to ensure the remaining amounts in the trust can be used for her ongoing care." Wal-Mart will also be modifying its health care plan to allow "more discretion" in individual cases.
Companies make decisions for any number of reasons. There are legal reasons (which guided Wal-Mart's original decision), business reasons, public relations reasons, moral reasons, and sometimes no reason at all. Just because something is permitted by law, however, does not mean that there are not better justifications not to take that action. In making any decision, employment related or otherwise, companies would be wise not to just consider whether a course of action is legal, but also what effect that action will have on its business, its relationship with its employees, and its public persona. Only thoughtful consideration of all of these factors will allow for fully informed corporate decision making.