I’m bothered by the unnecessary complexity of employment laws. Solution? We harness the awesome power of reality TV to kick Congress into gear. The revolution will be televised.
Hat tip to past generations for leveling the playing field in the workplace. Honestly. Well done. But, anyone who has gotten woozy drinking from the alphabet soup of employment laws (FLSA, GINA, ADA, FMLA, ADEA, OWBPA, etc.) knows that they may feel good at first, but leave a nasty hangover. The laws and regulations can be conflicting, impractical, and productivity-stifling. It is a morass. I don’t mind complexity – but it has become tortuous. Even the most competent, saintly, business people do not have a snowballs chance in hell of being 100% compliant. And that is just not fair.
This brings me to my fantasy reality show: The Real Congress Members of DC(“RCMDC”). It is Big Brother meets American Idol meets The Apprentice. It combines all of the TV time that Congress covets with all of the political drama that today’s 24-hour news cycle demands.
Each season, RCMDC producers pick 2 members of Congress: one from each party; one from each chamber. The two members are whisked away in an unmarked van to an undisclosed location where, for one month, they will live and work and be filmed 24/7. Their job? To run a pretend business with pretend employees and all of their real problems. Their goal? 100% compliance with all laws. The catch? The members are not allowed to contact their aides, their attorneys, or the outside world for assistance. Like most small business owners, the members will have the helpful guidance of a law library and government websites and 800 numbers. That should be all they need, right?
The members will be filmed sweating out various employment scenarios. Here’s an episode: just when the members decide to terminate a non-performing employee, she announces that she is pregnant and has a communicable disease! Watch the members struggle and twist in the wind. Can they still fire her? She is a terrible worker but if they terminate her now she will almost certainly sue for violation of the ADA, FMLA, GINA, PDA, Title VII, and more! The company will ultimately win – but only after three years of fighting and six-figures in attorney’s fees. Or the Company could “punt” and keep the under-performer because her drag on business productivity costs less than defending against her inevitable, meritless lawsuit. Good times.
At the end of each episode, the members are judged, American-Idol style, by a panel of two employment lawyers (one plaintiff-side and one defense-side) and one employee who has never run a business – sort of like a real trial! If the members are found to have erred, two things happen: (i) the law with which they failed to comply is immediately suspended until it can be revised to make sense (or be eliminated); and (ii) the American people get to vote (via text) on whether the member should be removed from Congress.
I picture Ryan Seacrest at the end of the show standing with each of the members saying: “If you want to vote to retain Senator Blowhard, text 01; to send him packing, text 02.” Senator Blowhard stands next to Ryan wearing an inane grin and holding up his fingers to show “01” to the audience at home.
Here is where the show gets really classy. If America votes Senator Blowhard out of Congress, we bring in Donald Trump for the results show to say, “You’re fired”.
It may be silly, but if Congress had to abide by their Byzantine laws or be fired, I suspect that we’d see the gray areas cleared up rather quickly.