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  Terrorism and Business Credit  

Employer/Employee Relations and
Customer Relations in New Environment:
Business As Usual?

Terrorism Articles
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By Doug Fox, CCE and Scott Blakeley, Esq.
Reprinted by permission from Trade Vendor Quarterly Blakeley & Blakeley LLP

1. Employer/Employee

Employees, whether in the credit department or elsewhere, are concerned about opening mail, flying for business and working in high-profile locations. The Sept. 11 events have weakened productivity and employee well being. Employees handle the stress of these events differently. Does the employer now have a responsibility to ensure an employee's safety in this new environment? Many businesses are consulting with security firms to advise on steps to protect the company. What may have been considered as office jokes may now be considered as threats. For example, an employee was recently fired for having spread white powder on another employee's desk.

What is the employer's duty to protect employees in the face of new threats of terrorism? How far does that duty extend? Does an employer have responsibility for the employee's safe commute where there is a terrorist threat? Is tele-commuting an option the employer must consider with such a threat? What if an employee refuses to fly out of concerns over safety where travel is required. What remedy does an employer have? What of the employee that refuses to continue work in a high rise out of safety concerns? The law is uncertain which is requiring companies to go to great lengths to create a safe workplace.

Companies are establishing safety plans for employees at work locations. Employers are examining evacuation plans, protections against bioterrorism and maintaining emergency food and water supplies. Employers are also considering threats to the mailroom. Many companies are following guidelines provided by the U.S. Postal Service in dealing with suspicious packages. Employees are also updating personal information of employees, including contact information so they may be reached in an emergency. The credit department may consider maintaining a contact list of employees within the department.

Many employees have undergone a significant shift in views of work and personal life with their priorities shifting, and the credit department is not immune to this. Does the employer have a duty to help employees with emotional issues surrounding the new environment? Employers are now asked to draw the line with employer/employee relationship and personal and family concerns. The vendor may look to information sources to assist with employee stress. Check the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder's website:

2. Customer Relations

Given the environment, a credit professional must be mindful of collection efforts with delinquent accounts. Customers may still be traumatized from the terrorist attacks.

Douglas G Fox, GSCFM, CCE is a member of Mid-Atlantic NACM and is active in the Greater Delaware Valley Region and Philadelphia area.

Scott E. Blakeley is a principal of Blakeley & Blakeley LLP where he practices creditors' rights and bankruptcy law. He can be reached at

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