Act Before The Supreme Court Decisions On Guns & Abortions Impact Your Workplace (The top 10 problems created by each recent SCOTUS decision)

HR must plan for the upcoming workplace turmoil as a new gun and abortion court decisions take effect.

Of course, everyone is talking about the two recent Supreme Court decisions covering abortion and gun rights. And even though most of the impacts from these two rulings will fall into the legal and political categories. It would be a grave mistake for corporate executives and HR leaders to miss the fact that these decisions will also create many damaging workforce-related issues. Therefore, it makes sense for smart leaders to begin developing a process for identifying and handling the workforce problems arising from these two decisions. 

First, let’s examine the issues created by the recent Bruen Supreme Court ruling on gun control. Even though this issue didn’t get as much publicity, it will likely have many more business impacts than the abortion decision that followed it.

Part I – The Top 10 Workplace Problems That Will Occur When Your Employees Carry Guns More Often

One of the goals of the recent “Bruen” Supreme Court ruling was to increase citizens’ access to guns outside their homes significantly. And as a result, your executives must immediately realize that many more of your employees and customers will routinely carry loaded guns. So you will need to plan to effectively reduce the following 10 negative workplace problems created because of this expanded presence of guns. 

  • Gun issue #1 – OSHA requires that you maintain a hazard free environment – although there is no specific OSHA workplace violence rule. Its “general duty clause” requires employers to provide a workplace free of conditions that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees. And the presence of guns will certainly significantly increase your workplace hazards.
  • Gun issue #2 – You can’t restrict guns at your workplace unless your state designates your facility as a “sensitive place” – this court decision greatly expanded the places where guns can be carried outside the home. However, the court did allow an out. It noted that gun restrictions and banning could, in fact, occur in “sensitive places” like government buildings. And as a result, your legal department will have to determine which states (where you have facilities) state government successfully designated large workplaces to be one of these sensitive places. Without that designation, your options for restricting guns in your workplace will be severely limited. And with more guns, you will need more armed security to handle the more violent situations that will occur effectively. 
  • Gun issue #3 – Your employees will forget and bring guns into your building – as a result of this court ruling, more employees will be carrying a gun to and from work. And that increased frequency will proportionately increase the chances that many of your employees will accidentally bring their guns into your workplace. Therefore, you must have a process for quietly handling these frequent incidents. 
  • Issue #4 – at least once, an employee will purposely bring a weapon into your building – even when your facility has a “sensitive place” designation by your state. Your leaders must prepare for some of your employees to likely feel strongly about the Second Amendment. To the point where some employees may purposely “test the issue” at your company (especially in pro-gun states). The test may be in the form of an individual employee who purposely brings a gun into your facility to test their gun rights. Your company will need an effective “within the building” process for quietly confronting charged-up employees and removing a gun unless you are willing to require metal detectors at each entranceway. 
  • Issue #5 – Dealing with armed customers will stress some employees – because of the recent mass shooting at the supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Your employees and customers will likely be extra sensitive whenever they see anyone with a gun in their retail facility. In many states, your company won’t have the right to legally restrict whether your customers can bring a gun into the public areas of your facility. You will need to educate your employees on the details of how your company is protecting them from these mass shooters. And if your education process doesn’t successfully minimize your employee fears. Expect lower productivity and increased current recruiting and retention problems for these positions. Therefore, it makes sense for HR to continually monitor how effectively your gun policies and protections have reduced employee stress.
  • Issue #6 – Preventing employees from retrieving their guns from their cars in anger – even if your facility is in a state that allows companies to prohibit guns in your work facility and its parking lot. There is always a chance that an angry employee will leave your workplace to retrieve their loaded gun from your parking lot and display it in anger. Therefore, you will need a foolproof process that first discourages employees from leaving to retrieve a gun. But one that also physically prevents them from immediately reentering your facility with a gun.
  • Issue #7 – Prevent your vendors from bringing guns into your workplace – in addition to customers. Vendors that regularly enter your facility must be educated on policies restricting guns in your workplace. They must also be closely monitored. Even with an effective warning, there is a high probability that at least one vendor won’t get the message.
  • Issue #8 – Like it or not, how your organization handles guns will soon become part of its external employer brand – because guns in the workplace will likely remain a hot issue for years among applicants and employees. It’s essential that both your recruiting and employer branding professionals consciously and proactively build your organization’s external employer brand image. So that potential applicants concerned about your gun policies can easily find out if your approach and policies fit their needs. 
  • Issue #9 – Preventing candidates from bringing a loaded gun to their interview – interviewees are not likely to know much about your corporation’s gun restrictions. And even if you tell them specifically, for interviewer safety, not to bring a gun to their interviews. You will still need a process to secure a discovered gun quickly. 
  • Gun issue #10 – If your employees have a union, it will demand consultation – because most labor laws classify the presence of guns as a working condition. If you have a union, your ability to act unilaterally in this area will be severely restricted. 

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Part II – The Top 10 Workplace Problems That Occur When An Employee’s Local Access To Abortion Are Limited

A primary consequence of the recent “Dobbs Supreme Court decision” was to significantly reduce a woman’s access to abortions in many states. In many states, the abortion restrictions were automatically implemented on the same day as the decision. Corporate leaders must quickly determine what actions (if any) they should take. To make it easier for their employees that want pregnancy-related medical help to get it.

In my previous article entitled Roe v. Wade, Where To Expand Your Support For Impacted Employees. I covered all of the most effective solutions to this problem. So in this updated follow-up segment, I have only included the abortion-related problems that most companies will likely face. Executives should realize that taking action in this area is important because 58% of workers are women.

As a result, any major disruption in the lives of female employees will hurt productivity, safety, hiring, and retention. Given the publicity that the loss of a woman’s right to choose is now receiving. You must assume that your female and male employees, potential applicants, and customers will be watching closely to see how their company is adequately meeting its employees’ needs in this important medical area.

  • Abortion issue #1 – Executives will severely underestimate the business costs that will occur when their employees lose access – you must make managers fully aware of how anything short of a positive experience in this sensitive medical area will negatively impact team productivity, retention, recruiting, and in some cases customer sales. 
  • Abortion issue #2 – Your employees may need immediate help – because a dozen states have “trigger laws .” Allowing some severe abortion restrictions to take effect immediately. Realize that your employees in those states may need urgent help today.
  • Abortion issue #3 – Your employees will have difficulty finding and understanding your abortion-related offerings – even when you offer a wide array of helping services. Realize that some employees will have difficulty in finding these connected services. Unless you provide them in one spot with an easy-to-understand summary of the support areas you provide. Ensure that information fully explains their leave and healthcare options as well as a list of the external support agencies and their services. Also, consider offering a pregnancy hotline where employees can get 24/7 anonymous answers to their questions and problems.
  • Issue #4 – Employees will be concerned about which services the company will pay for – because the cost of the procedure and its related costs are a major employee concern. Work with your healthcare provider to give your employees a list of healthcare items that will be fully paid for, which ones have deductions and which ones are not normally covered. Also, make them aware of payments for related issues, including travel to the procedure, counseling, miscarriages, and adoptions.
  • Issue #5 –Employee privacy protections will become an even greater issue – if you want to reduce an employee’s anxiety. Realize that employee privacy is especially critical for issues surrounding pregnancy. Survey women employees to identify their privacy concerns. And then develop a privacy protection plan to meet those needs.
  • Issue #6 – Intercompany transfers (permanent or temporary) may be needed – because some employees working in states that severely restrict abortions will want to leave that state. Realize that some firms are providing them with the option to temporarily or permanently transfer their work site to another state with more woman-friendly abortion regulations. So, where possible, provide employees that want it, either temporary or permanent relocation support.
  • Issue #7 – Be aware that some impacted employees may not feel physically safe and secure – because physical violence is often a factor associated with an unwanted pregnancy. You must consult with the employee and your security department. To determine what safety and security assistance this individual employee needs while in the office.
  • Issue #8 – Some will need help identifying the best facility for their procedure – the closest facility is not always the best and least restrictive one for the employee. So, consider making it easier for an employee to find the best clinic. Provide them with a list of the US clinics that excel at these procedures and the advantages and restrictions.
  • Issue #9 – Realize that not every employee will be equally affected – your women employees will be the most impacted group. However, you should also realize that your lower-paid workers, younger workers, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds may require the most abortion help. So, you may need to focus your support efforts on these categories of employees. In addition, as a US-only issue with extensive global publicity, it may cause your international employees and potential applicants to rethink their willingness to work for your company in the USA.
  • Abortion issue # 10 – Some employees will need help overcoming state restrictions on getting access to the morning-after pill – ensuring easy access to the Plan B pill (Levonorgestrel) will help reduce any of your employees’ future need for any abortion medical procedure. Unfortunately, some states are already beginning to restrict a woman’s access to this “day after pill.” Therefore, when feasible, find a way to make this at-home pill treatment easily available to your employees working in states restricting access to it. 
If you can only do one thing – I recommend that you jump-start your helping efforts by finding out what the most advanced firms are already doing (or planning) as a result of these two Supreme Court decisions. Begin by conducting an Internet benchmark search covering gun and the abortion areas. Focus on leading firms like Salesforce, Amazon, Google, Meta, Tesla, and Apple. And because most of the leading firms are willing to aid firms that are not direct competitors. Call a few of these non-competitor firms that mirror your situation and ask directly for their help.

Final Thoughts

Even though these two court decisions are recent, there is little time to waste. So, I recommend the first step in any successful attempt to mitigate these problems is – to survey your employees in the most impacted states to find out what they expect in both the gun and the abortion areas.

Next, benchmark a few leading firms (like Salesforce) to identify the range of actions others take in each coverage area. Step three is to make a business case for justifying the cost of each of the new offerings you add in both areas. And last, put together results metrics so you can continually improve what you are offering your employees.

Of course, never forget that in this tight talent market, how you favorably act in these two areas may permanently impact your future applications. Surprisingly, your applications may increase among potential applicants who are not remotely impacted by these two court rulings.

Author’s Note 

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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