Too often the Off-topic close reason asking for legal advice is misapplied to any question that has a question about the law.

Instead I think we should reword the close reason to say:

This question is beyond the scope that our experts can be expected to be able to answer. Questions about company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager, HR department, or an attorney. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. For more information, click here.

This still covers questions asking for actual Legal Advice, as that is beyond the expected scope of our experts, with out having the effect to seemingly encourage voting to close any question that has to do with the law and how people are treated by a company.

It is clear that doing anything in the workplace is going to involve complying with laws and regulations surrounding it. We should not encourage closing questions just because they have some legal component. Instead we should focus on the "can our experts be reasonably expected to to be able to answer this question" aspect.

  • I agree. This might be too long as written (haven't tried pasting it in to see, but eyeballing it). However, I think we could drop the first sentence and it would still be fine; it will, after all, be presented as an off-topic close reason, so "out of scope" is implied. The job of the reason is to explain why, which the rest of this does well. Nov 1 '16 at 18:10
  • @MonicaCellio what is the Character limit? Nov 2 '16 at 19:50
  • Limit is 400 characters (in the markdown, not in the rendered text). Nov 16 '16 at 17:02

I agree, because there are areas which require legal advice where someone working in HR can answer easily. Someone who has worked in publishing, such as myself, can answer questions about copyright law, especially the fair use clause.

So long as we don't have to go into areas which require nuance such as contract law and employment law, if it's workplace related, it should not be grounds to close a question.


Suggested tweak (to shorten it and tighten up the wording a bit):

Questions about company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager, your HR department, or an attorney. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. See this post for more information.

The linked meta post would, of course, be updated if we make this change.

This wording makes it clearer what the problem is, without producing false positives for the smaller set of law-related questions that actually are on-topic here.


I disagree. I'm concerned that we would trade off rejecting valid questions with answering questions with false information.

There are already many "IANAL BUT [here's my legal opinion]" in answers/comments, and some statements that can be described as "intuitive guesses about how the law should work but objectively does not".

Even HR is limited to narrow jurisdictions. If you look on avvo.com, no attorney will comment outside their licensed state(s), and many put disclaimers on all replies. HR is bound by laws that vary by country and state--look at your employee handbook for "Except for employees in ____" or "Except for employees acquired from ___.

There are other forums for this. Perhaps judicious editing to remove the legal aspects would serve the community better.

  • 1
    So down vote those answers. There is already plenty of bad information in my opinion I do not see adding this as being to onerous. The expectation is already back it up. Legal aspect questions should probably have more refererences than others but again thats what votes are for Nov 2 '16 at 19:50
  • @IDrinkandIKnowThings Could make that argument for any OT post? Maybe we could use an example or a closed questions that you feel should be opened, which you feel would not be closed given the re-write?
    – jimm101
    Nov 2 '16 at 20:34
  • I am not suggesting reopening any. I am simply wanting to remove that from the close reason going forward. I am also not suggesting that questions that ask for legal advice would be on topic. But questions like the one linked should be on topic. It is quite clear that pretty much anywhere in the US the company could terminate. What is it going to take for me to sue is off topic. Why is my company allowed to terminate me after 3 days when i didnt show up or call for the second and showed up late with out a call the third... yeah that one i can answer Nov 2 '16 at 20:43
  • @IDrinkandIKnowThings I'm reasonably sure I don't need a lawyer to know murder is illegal. :-) The linked-to question I think was poorly framed--it presents itself as a legal question about "what can someone do", but is really asking about when to bring up work hours during candidacy. That's clearly a case where editing would have pushed the question in bounds, addressed the addressable concerns (the OP can't control what is asked, right or wrong, and isn't likely to sue), and avoided closure. It's very common on english.SE, where higher rep people often curate questions to keep them in play.
    – jimm101
    Nov 2 '16 at 20:59
  • My point was that question as asked should have been in bounds. It could have been improved but it should not have been closed in the first place. The legal advice being in the close reason, I believe, leads people to close questions that have some legal aspect. Everything we do has a legal aspect. It deserved the score it had, but did not deserve to be closed as off topic Nov 2 '16 at 21:03
  • 2
    Okay, I see your perspective--rather than block and prune, we should allow the question but downvote answers that wander into OT areas. I'm wondering if there's a way to keep some language in? Maybe "...should be directed to your manager, HR department or an attorney"? That gives some heightened awareness of the "we're not attorneys" more explicit than "[we can't] be expected to answer".
    – jimm101
    Nov 2 '16 at 21:15
  • I agree i did an update. If you can see a better way to phrase feel free to edit. Nov 2 '16 at 21:21
  • +1 for the Oxford comma.
    – jimm101
    Nov 2 '16 at 21:23
  • 2
    But false information is what this stackexchange thrives on.
    – user49916
    Nov 2 '16 at 21:54
  • 1
    'Legal advice', 'legal opinion' and 'a layman opinion about the law' are 3 very different things
    – Qsigma
    Nov 10 '16 at 8:18

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