The Golden State has not been looking so golden for a while now. California has budget deficits that get bigger ever year, despite imposing among the highest tax rates in the country in every category. These factors have begun to chase businesses and their employees to other states that are better managed and far less costly. Yet as bad as these economic conditions are to the burden of running a business (not to mention raising a family), they are only part of the reason that it is so difficult to operate a profitable enterprise in California today.
It is no surprise to anyone with common sense that all these government-union employees create countless rules and regulations in order to justify their existence and perpetuate the need for additional positions. Unfortunately, too many of these bureaucratic decrees are utterly incomprehensible, and many are totally contradictory. This makes it almost impossible for a business owner to run a company within the law while not being vulnerable to lawsuits either from employees or the government.
Recently I ran across a tale of woe from an acquaintance of mine, Shirley (not her real name), who has her own medical services company. The service she provides is vital to all of us. However, there are very few qualified people in this field and the average age of the people performing this technical function is about 55 years. It takes education and training, but few people are following this path despite a bright employment picture today and in the future.
Shirley has become reluctant to let any employees go no matter how grievous their behavior might become. Shirley has had very few problems with her staff because she has done what a responsible employer does – takes care of her employees and works with them. In that spirit, she organized a vote of her staff of eight in 1994 regarding an alternative work schedule. They chose to be able to work four 10-hour days, which allowed them the flexibility to schedule several long weekends with their families every year. Everybody was happy with the new arrangement and things sailed along very smoothly. They felt this new schedule would allow them flexibility to work either 8- or 10-hour days to be able to meet the law’s requirements, but let individual employees determine their own time schedules.
When Shirley needed to expand, she hired someone with good qualifications that had been recommended by one of her staff members. Running a small business, Shirley did not have the resources that larger firms have to exhaustively investigate potential employees, so she relied on the referral and the interview process. Everything was peachy until a year later, when the new employee let slip that she had sued her last two employers.