Paying a Personal Price: The Risk of Individual Legal Liability for “Going Along” with Wrongdoing

2020 Annual Conference & Exposition
Find out how you can be personally legally liable for actions you take on the job.

HR professionals often get caught in the middle when their employer is contemplating something ill-advised or illegal. They may be asked to find bogus reasons for firing a whistleblower, for example, or to approve another wrist-slap for an executive who is clearly a serial harasser. Faced with such pressure, and possibly with their own job on the line, HR professionals must consult their conscience, of course. But they also should consider their personal legal risk. Depending on the scenario and the applicable law, HR professionals may be held individually liable in an employee's resulting lawsuit, or even convicted in a criminal proceeding. This session will identify the workplace laws that allow for such personal liability and will offer practical advice to avoid being named in a legal action. We will walk through three scenarios involving schemes that are recognizably illegal, offering suggestions that should spare HR professionals and their employers a trip to court.

Learning Objectives: 

•            Which major workplace statutes do—and do not—allow for individual liability by HR professionals.

•            How to identify common situations in which such a risk is present.

•            Behaviors and statements that may increase—or decrease—an HR professional's chance of being sued individually.

•            Best practices for deflecting management requests to participate in, or turn a blind eye to, wrongdoing.

Date(s) & Time(s): 
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 3:45pm to 5:00pm

R. Scott Oswald

R. Scott

Scott Oswald is a SHRM member and an accomplished trial lawyer who has brought more than three dozen trials to verdict, tallying more than $120 million in judgments and settlements.  He serves as chair of the Professional Ethics Committee for the Federal Bar Association.  A fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Mr. Oswald earned his law degree at Howard University and honed his skills at Trial Lawyers College, founded by the legendary Gerry Spence.  As managing principal of The Employment Law Group, he represents employees and whistleblowers nationwide.  Washingtonian Magazine recognizes him as a "Top Lawyer" in Washington, D.C.

Session Type: 
Concurrent Session
Critical Evaluation
Ethical Practice
Leadership & Navigation
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