Use Good Judgment and Follow the Golden Rule just don't cut it in today's legal climate

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Bruce Carton of Legal Blog Watch (via Overlawyered.com) notes the passing of Nordstrom's employee "handbook," which consisted of a single index card with the admonition to "use good judgment in all situations." Meanwhile, at Minding the Workplace and Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer, the authors note that many, if not all, of our workplace problems -- particularly harassment and "bullying" -- would go away if everyone simply followed The Golden Rule.

I don't disagree. I will go on record right now as being unequivocally "pro-Golden Rule." I think it would be great if we all knew what "good judgment" was and exercised it on a regular basis. Arguably, all the problems, not just of the workplace, but of the world, would go away if we always used good judgment and followed The Golden Rule.

But of course this isn't going to happen. That we have evil and stupid people in the world goes without saying. Even intelligent people who mean well sometimes act foolishly or do bad things.

And apart from the fact that we live in a fallen world, there is our counter-intuitive legal climate. Let's face it -- from a legal standpoint, who even knows what "good judgment" is? One recurring theme of any management training I conduct is to emphasize that one cannot use one's common sense in dealing with workplace issues. Here are two recent examples showing why not...

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