Thursday, May 02, 2013

Is Your Non Profit Dog Rescue Operating In An Unprofessional Manner?

"The San Diego Humane Society will have to pay its former president more than $1.1 million after an arbitrator ruled that the organization illegally fired him because of his medical conditions"

Wow, that's a lot of money.

In my experience, I've seen a number of non-profit entities that are not as diligent regarding the risks of being "in business" as most for profit companies tend to be. At least, that's been my observation over the years. In fact, I'm betting most companies, non and for profit, are not even aware of the risks they face with employment liability laws, especially in California.

This should be a warning to all non profits... you need to examine your operations and policies, including getting professional legal advice regarding employee issues, and also having liability insurance in place to protect you in case of a major claim. In this case, it appears that this organization had consulted with council... yet, the arbitration result was a finding that they were at fault. Who knows what really happened, we can only see what is reported in the news. My main point here isn't about this particular case. I have no idea who any of these people are.

My main concern is that I've seen rescue organizations can become a big entity at some point, and when things get bigger, many organizations still run as if they are small operations. You just can't do things that way because eventually you will be involved in situations like this, and you need to be operating at a high level. A million dollar judgment can destroy some entities.

My other concern is for those working at these non profits. It can falsely be assumed when working for some non profit organizations that you'll sacrifice anything to work there. It can also be assumed that non profit also means less than professional. And for some reason, I think that non profit organizations can tend to become internally very political and petty, and it is better to not work at a place if you see that kind of environment. Otherwise, you might one day be someone who is damaged by your non profit employer, and you'll be forced into a fight.

The San Diego Humane Society may be a fine organization, and may have done everything I would have done in the same circumstances. Or they might be creeps. I have no idea. I also don't know any of the people involved, whether they are good or bad. Whatever happened isn't my business. But this article did concern me...

I am concerned about you: what about your organization? Is your non profit operating to the highest levels possible? Do you understand employment laws? Do you consult with legal council in making your policies? What is your dispute handling procedure? Do you have sufficient liability insurance? And if you work at a non profit, is this a place where you want to make a career? Do you see red flags that you should address before something blows up? Are they going to treat you well?

I don't see many non profits and their employees considering these issues as seriously as they should. You have to wonder how this particular situation will affect the reputations of the organization and people from this point forward.

Start reviewing what you are doing immediately, and hire professionals to sort out the details. A million dollars is a lot of money.

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