With absolutely no intention of giving legal advice, I want to outline a few of the more basic concepts that a non-lawyer responsible for hiring people should understand. Why? Because the law should be demystified just a little so the person responsible for hiring others can have a rudimentary understanding of the potential legal issues that can swirl around the process.
For our purposes there are really only two types of legal actions people who do the hiring need to understand: crimes and civil wrongs.
An act committed by a person is a crime only because we, as a society, have decided to define that act as a crime through our state legislatures and through the Congress of the United States. Zipping through town at 90 miles per hour, for instance, is only a crime because we’ve decided to define it as a crime – because that speed poses an unacceptable risk to public safety.
People who are accused of committing a crime, like speeding, find themselves in court, where the state is the complaining party (the plaintiff) and the person accused of committing the crime is the defendant.
The only other type of action we need to be concerned with is lawsuits. Loosely defined, a lawsuit is a civil action where the two contending parties are two individuals or corporations – not the state verses and individual.
For example, let’s say I believe that I didn’t get the job because I think you were playing favorites and hired your nephew instead of me. I then sue you because I think I was wronged. I become the complaining party (the plaintiff), and you become the defendant. The complaint in this example isn’t a crime; it’s an alleged civil wrong. That’s enough for now…