Bruce’s Summary: In several of my overviews I have indicated that the HR landscape continues to shift both in accountability and liability. Well, it can’t get any clearer than the above title suggests, HR Professionals are now on the firing line with newly revised DOJ and FTC policy shifts in enforcement priorities. Although, according to the authors such outlined conduct has always carried potential criminal liability (both for corporate and individuals) under antitrust laws that typically dealt with such violations through civil proceedings. Now, employers and HR Professionals are on notice that such conduct may now be investigated by a grand jury and prosecuted criminally. The interesting move by the agencies is clearly apparent for HR Professionals with the issuance of their “Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals”. The old saying that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is alive and well.
With this HR landscape shift, it is critical for HR Professionals to grasp the current and future magnitude of this paradigm shift of accountability and potential personal liability for themselves. Also key is understanding what these policy shifts mean to the organization. Management and key HR Professionals must be trained and assigned in the decision chain of command as to whom could be affected within the organization on these policy changes and what potential liability means with the goal of proactively implementing processes to ensure going forward such violations become non-existent.
One important step is to ensure that you, as an HR Professional, review and understand how the organization’s D&O liability insurance works and how to be added on, if you’re not already. Remember, being identified by federal agencies totally changes the playing field. As you may know, companies and individuals, now including HR Professionals can be sued for a variety of reasons related to their company roles, including breach of fiduciary duty resulting in financial losses or bankruptcy, misrepresentation of company assets, misuse of company funds, fraud, failure to comply with workplace laws, theft of intellectual property, and lack of corporate governance. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.” www.calvin-associates.com