Thursday, August 16, 2007

Does individual liability have unintended consequences? reports today on the increasing number of executives and managers being personally sued for their work-related decisions. Under Ohio's employment discrimination statute, managers and supervisors have been personally liable for their own acts of discrimination since the Ohio Supreme Court decided Genaro v. Central Transport in 1999. The federal wage and hour laws (the FLSA, the FMLA, and the Equal Pay Act) also provide for personal liability, but the same does not hold true for Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA. Many Ohio discrimination suits name an individual in addition to the company because suing a local manager or supervisor of a non-local company will block removal to federal court. Does that strategy, however, have an intended consequence? According to the article, some attorneys believe that naming an individual unnecessarily ups the ante in employment discrimination cases, causing the defense to dig in their collective heels, making cases more difficult to settle because more people are involved who want their personal reputations cleared. In fact, employers often take these cases just as personally as do employees, because they involve hurtful allegations of racism, sexism, or other forms of bigotry. Whether suing a manager or supervisor will render a case more difficult to resolve should be considered before any individual is added as a defendant to a discrimination suit.