Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When did we all stop accepting responsibility?

3127204345_13d184d865_m A woman in California has filed a class action lawsuit against McDonald’s. She claims that McDonald’s temps kids to eat unhealthily by promoting their fattening food with Happy Meal toys. I know you may this hard to believe, but, yes, parents, if you feed you kids too many Happy Meals, they may get fat. If a court agrees with this lawsuit, the parents who use McDonald’s as a crutch to feed their kids will be absolved of any responsibility for the resulting obesity. Yet, is it just the cheap cardboard box and tchotchke toys, or does the obesity result from parents that are either too busy or too lazy to feed their kids healthy foods? Or, do parents that permit their children to lounge around the house watching TV and playing video games beget overweight kids? Yes, too much fast food can make you fat. But, not only is it not the only reason kids become overweight, I’d venture to guess it is not the main reason either.

We have become a society that refuses to accept responsibilities for our faults. I see it all the time in employment cases. The insubordinate employee is convinced that her race/sex/age/disability was the reason behind her termination. The chronically late employee is convinced that he is being retaliated against despite his unreliability. The overly sensitive employee shrieks that one harmless email is a pattern and practice of lascivious harassment. One theme that resonates over and over in cases I defend is a refusal to accept responsibility. Yes, employers do discriminate, and retaliate, and harass. More often than not, however, businesses simply try to do right by their employees. Yet, if you believe all of the lawsuits that are filed, corporate America is one giant group of bigots and employees are never responsible for their own unemployment.

As we approach the new year, let’s all make it a resolution in 2011 to start taking responsibility for our own faults and shortcomings. It may decrease the number of lawsuits I am called on to defend, but it will make us a more credible society.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or