The past quarter of 2018 has been marked by a glut of high-profile business settlements. From Elon Musk’s arrangement with the SEC to Walgreen’s $34.5m settlement, as reported by CNBC, the best way forward for all parties seems to be sitting down and talking. Christian business people are well versed in this, and Peter 3:15 provides the wisdom needed; being honest and transparent will lead to a better outcome for everyone.
An eagerness to settle can bring important concessions to both sides of the legal aisle. What’s more, with several hot topic legal questions being raised every week in these news, the precedent these settlements are creating may have a positive impact on social issues. More ethical and understanding practices by businesses are of benefit to black Americans, Christians and businesses nationally.
Business cases leading the way
It’s important to note that litigation is expensive. According to a study published in the New York Times, it’s necessary to spend at least $43,000, with that amount the average loss for the ‘losing’ side in court. This is a heavy sum for businesses in the small to medium range and is a disproportionately large sum for black business owners – one Gallup poll, reported in Black Enterprise, found that 80% struggled with capital and cash flow. Any big hits are felt acutely.
This is where settlement has aided businesses and individuals without compromising the ‘right’ outcome for both parties. Through class action lawsuits, small businesses are finding recourse through legal routes that were too costly to pursue previously – especially when considering the caliber of lawyer employed by larger business and the federal government. Furthermore, unlike legal cases which sometimes pursue unnecessarily harsh measures for either side, compromise has been reached. This has been clearly shown in the $295m Stericycle settlement and that of Erik Gordon, both of which showed a commitment from both stakeholders to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Filtering into the civil arena
This business-like focus towards settlement is filtering into the civil and human rights world. Social media campaigns and advances in public oversight have seen marginalized groups find greater recourse. Like business settlements, there is an emphasis on fairness rather than all-out greed.
The most famous recent example of this is the Robinson and Nelson vs Starbucks case. In a separate settlement, the two men agreed to just a $1 symbolic settlement from the City of Philadelphia in respect of the police action, but a far more impactful $200,000 high school program was set up in tandem. This type of wider community focused settlement is a great trend to see in action and is a far cry from the pure money payouts, such as Coke’s salary discrimination case of 2000.
As these settlements continue to tally up, marginalized black business owners and private citizens will continue to benefit. Fairness is in the interest of every party and as recent cases have shown, will be of continuing benefit to the wider community. Expect to see more of these cases reported and influencing future proceedings.