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Mad Men Cast

I love “Mad Men.”  There’s something about the confidence, late 60’s cool, and the internal misery endured by the characters every season that allows for a great hour-long weekly escape.  It makes me want to be an employee in the creative department of Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce – working late to perfect the copy needed to get Americans to buy more baked beans.
But, I’m an insurance man.  My professional career has been dedicated to protecting the assets of my clients, their companies, and their families.  So, it’s hard for me to watch “Mad Men” without over analyzing all of the potential for an employment practices lawsuit.  Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) protects you, your employees, and your business against claims made by your former, current and potential employees  resulting from different forms of alleged misconduct by employees – or even third parties.
Now, I realize that times have changed. The workplace is much more tolerant toward women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities than it was circa 1968.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the woman’s liberation movement, and an overall increase in our society’s litigious behavior have all contributed to everyone minding their “P’s and Q’s” much more than they did 40 years ago.  It probably wasn’t as bad back then as the show portrays, but it does raise some interesting questions – and makes for great television.
So, let’s assume that Don, Roger, Pete, Joan, Peggy and company decide to open up shop in 2012 without a Human Resources Director.  Hopefully their insurance agent provides them with an EPLI policy because:
  • When the boss marries his secretary and then immediately gives her a promotion, Peggy, Pete, and the rest of the B-Team at SCDP take offense.  The have all worked hard to reach their current positions and they’re all talented at what they do.  Do you think someone might carry a grudge if they were scheduled for a promotion, but got passed-over because of perceived favoritism?
  • Boys will be boys. After a quasi-burlesque performance at an office party the night before, ol’ Harry can’t keep his carnal thoughts about Megan (his boss’s wife) to himself.  Which wouldn’t be that bad if they were in the locker room.  But they weren’t – they were in the break room.  And she heard him.
  • You can’t drunkenly hit on your underlings Whether it’s Roger and Joan, Don and Peggy, or all of the men in the office and all of the secretaries in the office (who happen to be women) – you can’t make blatant sexual advances towards your coworkers and expect no repercussions.  Throw an illegitimate child into the mix and you’ve got one heck of a lawsuit on your hands.
Do you see a few potential claims in the examples above?  Here’s another scary thought – when I Googled “wrongful termination lawyer,”  over 70 matches appeared within a 20 mile radius of our office.  So yes, it was a different time and people behaved differently.  But how many Peggys or Megans or Joans would stand-up for that sort of treatment nowadays?  Do you have any Rogers in your office?  Even if you don’t, anyone who believes they’ve been wronged can cost you a lot of money in the course of proving that they weren’t.

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