If (a) you are running a business that has a commitment as part of ingrained policy to obey the law; (b) President Obama announces that his administration will for the time being not be enforcing the law with regard, e.g., to existing insurance policies, or for that matter, the employer mandate; (c) is there a sound argument that you should not obey the law because it’s not being enforced and because the governing authorities actually don’t want you to obey it?
If you posed this question to folks who teach corporate ethics, social responsibility, etc., in business school, what would their response be?
UPDATE: From an email by an anonymous VC reader:
As you noted most companies, including the ones I worked for, required compliance with law as a matter of company policy and the knowing, or grossly negligent, failure to do so was grounds for termination. I worked in the area of environment and safety and in many countries there are very extensive laws in these areas which are not enforced. However, our policy, and that of most companies I am familiar with, was to comply with those laws regardless of whether they were being enforced. I can also tell you that the external CSR stakeholders took the same position. We could not pick and choose which laws to comply with based on whether they were being enforced.
There are further complicating factors regarding the President’s announcement:
First, under both Dodd-Frank and other provisions of federal and state law corporations are required to make various certifications about compliance with applicable law. How should companies deal with these certifications if they offer policies or take other actions that are illegal under the ACA but for which the President has said there will be no enforcement?
Second, many states have now adopted by law or regulation requirements for the issuance of policies that conforms with the ACA. The President’s enforcement pledge does not bind the states. What should a company do under those circumstances?
Third, are there any private rights of action under ACA which can be brought against parties not in compliance with the provisions of the act?