Putting Your Head in the Sand Does Not Eliminate the Problem

We often compare a person who refuses to face problems to an ostrich that sticks its head in the sand.  Ostriches don't really bury their heads in the sand.  They do dig large pits in which they deposit their eggs.  Ostriches also eat pebbles which help in the digestive process.  Either of these activities may give the appearance of a head in the sand, but it is appearance only. 

Unfortunately, refusing to confront challenges is a common folly among humans.  We hope that if we ignore a problem long enough that it will go away.  Take, for example, the person who owed my client a lot of money.  In spite of my many calls and letters, she refused to respond.  So I sued her.  That's all it took.  I immediately received a call from her attorney. 

More serious is the employer who fails to address workplace issues, including non-compliance with wage and hour laws.  In 2012, I met with a client whom I will call "Joe."  Joe was referred to me by someone who was concerned about the company's pay practices.  According to the referral source, Joe's employees were underpaid, meal and rest periods were not provided, and paycheck stubs were incorrect. 

The referral source was correct.  Joe's company did not pay employees correctly.  He did not include all of their hours.  He did not provide for meal or rest periods and his paychecks did not include all of the information required by law.  It was impossible to find a legal theory that allowed Joe to justify his pay practices.  I informed him of this, and provided Joe a detailed analysis of potential liability.  I included a conservative estimate of the potential liability and explained to him that he could be personally sued for the unpaid wages, penalties and attorneys' fees. 

Joe's response was to yell at me and criticize me for the "excessive" work I did in providing the analysis.  He refused to implement my suggestions and to comply with wage and hour laws.  I haven't heard from Joe since 2012. 

Did Joe's problems go away?  No.  Yesterday I noticed that Joe had been sued by several employees for unpaid overtime, inaccurate paycheck stubs and missed meal and rest periods.  Now Joe must confront not only his poor pay practices, but also a claim for attorneys' fees, which is mandatory in unpaid wage cases. 

I doubt Joe will call me.  He was adamant that my concerns, and fees, were overblown.  Really?  Spending a few thousands of dollars could have eliminated future liability and the statute of limitations would have started to run on past liability. 

With the lawsuits, Joe will have the opportunity to really learn the value of attorneys' fees!