The concept of ‘hostile workplace’ seems to be at the heart of Salesforce announces they will fund the move of any employee who finds Texas’ new law restricting abortion objectionable. Interestingly, Benioff, president of Salesforce, didn’t just apply this to female employees and that the initial version did not specify Texas but “any state”.
While generally speaking of a business making a statement like this wouldn’t indicate a potential trend just yet, Salesforce is a business that educates employees and customers at scale, making them much more likely to be the proverbial “canary in a coal mine” regarding employee care issues.
What’s also worth watching is that Texas law potentially turns employees against employees, apparently allowing a bounty of $ 10,000 for reporting a peer seeking an abortion. The related behavior appears to fit the definition of hostile action in the workplace. The EEOC Section which appears to apply is: “The unwelcome conduct, or harassment, is based on race, gender, pregnancy, religion, national origin, age, disability or genetics. You could also argue that this section could also apply: “The conduct is severe enough that the environment becomes intimidating, offensive or abusive.” If other employees are paid to sue you for your pregnancy decisions, it would be both intimidating and offensive to the employee at risk. The threat of reporting would undoubtedly be unwelcome conduct and potential harassment based on pregnancy.
Politically charged actions in the hostile workplace can dramatically damage the brand, tend to go viral, and with something as broad as a state law, they could certainly meet the standard of a remedy. collective. Let’s talk about the risks associated with a law like this, the weight of Salesforce’s action, and whether you should be implementing a similar policy this week.
Risks of Texas Abortion Law
Texas law, which gives individuals the right to take proactive measures and derive financial benefits from them, is a new approach to the law. There isn’t much history to look at to assess the associated risks. This law is not a company policy, but the company policy is subordinate to the law of the State; the EEOC is a national regulatory body and does not appear to be limited by state laws.
This lack of restriction places the company in a dead end when it comes to employee behavior. Texas, or any state with similar law, effectively compensates an employee who delegates a pregnant woman, but cannot compensate the company when doing so creates a hostile workplace for the employees. However, most jobs are Unlimited employment (Montana is the only exception) meaning the company could fire an employee who used this provision to attack a pregnant peer but would have to do so without listing the cause. The termination would likely also be contested nationally. And the power of such a policy would lie in its communication, which would establish a cause and foundation for this challenge making the termination route risky and potentially unsustainable.
Even asking the company for an out-of-state abortion could endanger the company under this Texas law and open it up to related litigation. It is not yet clear whether more than one third party can seek relief given the waves of Texas law. This potential extreme liability for a large brand can make dealing with this problematic with an internal policy to relocate the pregnant employee who needs the abortion if she is in the condition requested.
Salesforce’s approach to moving the employee if they feel uncomfortable would seem like the best course, but it hasn’t been tested. It could be argued that the only employees who would be “uncomfortable” were those requesting an abortion. While I think that argument would be weak, the trial would take place in Texas, which created the law, and judges are generally not fans of workarounds if it is clear that the intent of the law has been violated. . And since this policy did not exist before the passage of the Texas law, the basis of the policy could be questioned. So while Salesforce policy appears to be the best approach, it may not survive the challenge, suggesting that the need for reserves to cover potential litigation might be, in hindsight, viewed as prudent.
Proactive travel by Salesforce
Salesforce is a powerful brand and its expertise lies in empowering employees and customers. As noted, this makes it an indicator in cases like this, offering both a potential remedy and an early warning of a problem ahead. Other companies to watch would include any major brands following the example of Salesforce.
Even if an employee doesn’t file a complaint about a hostile workplace, they may feel intimidated by the law and fear the employees around them. This fear could affect their productivity and the loyalty of their company, forcing them to seek employment outside the state where they are not threatened by this law. It could also escalate into workplace violence if an employee’s spouse pursued by a colleague under this law results in miscarriage, perceived abuse or death. I myself refused to lead a human resources department years ago because my predecessor confronted the angry spouse of an employee who had reported abuse. Texas is arguably one of, if not the most liberal, states when it comes to gun ownership, making the risk of a backlash potentially high there.
Salesforce’s decision to proactively relocate employees would appear to be the only sure way to eliminate a class action lawsuit against them and the potential for workplace confrontations that could escalate into gun violence. Removing even the possibility of escalation, especially in Texas, would appear to be very careful.
Conclusion: should you implement a similar policy?
The Texas abortion law potentially pits employees against employees, creates a hostile environment for female employees, and can eventually escalate into violence. As the US Department of Justice challenges the law, the mere fact that an employee is emboldened to threaten to report a colleague for even considering abortion is unacceptable. Since this threat alone could both provide the basis for successful hostile workplace action under the EEOC and quickly escalate into violence (Texas has problems), the practice of terminating an employee at risk seems prudent.
Indeed, plans to move to Texas should be put on hold until the viability of this law is understood, and we have a better grasp of the long-term implications of employees in terms of employee acquisition and retention. And if this law results in class action lawsuits and workplace violence, which seems likely, it would be prudent to at least develop conditional plans with defined triggers to move out of Texas to protect both employees and the brand. the business if the anticipated problems become sufficiently pronounced. to justify such an approach.
Kudos to Salesforce for taking the lead and caring for their at-risk employees; I don’t expect them to be alone with this policy.