Suing Santa

Can you think of an easier target for a lawsuit than Santa? He runs what appears to be an unlicensed and unregulated workshop with a workforce that is seemingly trapped in an inhospitable climate and forced to work under the most grueling of deadlines.

Employment lawyers? What are you waiting for?

And the reindeer he uses? Imagine the physical stress they endure when it comes to powering his sled during that one intensive, exhaustive night? PETA? What are you waiting for?

And that sled? Santa doesn’t appear to get necessary clearance for any of his flights. Plus, he’s landing on rooftops — steep and snowy ones in cases. Hey, FAA? What are you waiting for?

Well, guess what. A number of lawyers have actually theorized just what kind of crimes the Big Guy is committing annually.  

That’s what lawyers do. They can’t help themselves, it would seem.

For instance, Harvard Law School-educated Sean Braswell, a writer for OZY, penned a piece called, “All of the Crimes Santa Would be Guilty if He Were Real.”

He came up with a dozen, including “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.” That’s what a kid would suffer if he or she got a lump of coal in their stocking.

What lawyer wouldn’t take that case? It's a potential class-action one, no less. Think of all the kids getting lumps of coal, particularly in this day and age when all kids do is stare at their phones. Santa has to have deep pockets, given his capacity for making toys. He obviously hasn’t gone hungry for quite awhile, either.

An Ohio lawyer, John Hyman, wondered if Santa was breaking child labor laws, at least when came to his state’s statute. He figured he would face potential problems, particularly when it came to younger elves, since those under 16 can only do clerical work in warehouses, he noted in an item called, "Santa Claus and child labor laws," on the Ohio Employer Law Blog. 

“For those elves ages 14 and 15, Santa cannot use their labor for manufacturing, warehousing, or loading his sleigh. And under the age of 14, no work at all is permitted.”

One of the biggest complaints against Santa: He’s worse than Google and Facebook when it comes to compiling personal information. From the Oxford University Press’s OUPblog, comes this article: “Santa Claus breaks the law every year.” It notes:

“Even before the Christmas season rolls around, Santa is actively engaged in full-time surveillance of 1.9 billion children … In the course of compiling this colossal ‘naughty-or-nice’ list, Santa probably violates every single privacy law ever created, but he is definitely breaking the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.“

Yep, he’s not just under scrutiny by U.S. attorneys. That’s a UK law the author is referring to.

Another British lawyer looked into whether Santa had the right to work in the UK, in this post called "Does Santa need a visa?" For one, there is conjecture about just where Santa is from, noted Arif Khalfe, of the British law firm Lupton and Fawcett. 

"Well, entering the UK on Christmas Eve may prove tricky, depending on where we consider Santa to be a national of," he wrote on the firm's blog. "For example, some say he is Finnish, others say he is from Greece, whilst others say he is from Canada. Where do you think he is from? Remember, the North Pole is under the sea and not a part of any country!

It gets rather complicated, apparently:

"If Santa is not a citizen of one of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, he may need a visa to travel here. However if Santa is from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, he can work in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without a work permit. Nevertheless, simply being from Europe still doesn’t make it easy. For example, if he is from Bulgaria or Romania he will still need permission to work in the UK."

And you thought the U.S. had a lot of red tape ... 

Remember we mentioned the reindeer. Well, PETA may have to stand in line because Santa could be violating the Lacey Act. That’s according to an article from the Foundation for Economic Education called, “5 Laws that Could Send Santa to Federal Prison.”

According to the article, “if his purchase, sale, possession, or use of reindeer—or any other flora or fauna— violates any state or federal law or the law of any foreign nation, no matter what language or code that foreign law is written in,” he’s in for it.

We mentioned his reckless sleigh riding. Others note that Santa would be breaking all sorts of law by not submitting to customs searches when crossing international borders. And he would have quite a lot to declare, given his annual booty.

While Santa could be in a lot of hot water, he’s appears to be clear of breaking any kind contractual laws if he were not to give you the present you asked for.

John Longo, a consumer rights attorney, wrote a piece called, “Legal Matters: Why You Can’t Sue Santa," published on the website GoLocal24. Basically, Santa can renege on a gift and you have no recourse.

“Every promise does not create a contract,” he wrote. “For example, if Santa said he would bring you a new bike since you were so good this year, he was not forming a contract with you.”

That applies even if you actually were very, very good. 

“Promises to do something you are supposed to do anyway, and promises not to do things you are not supposed to do anyway, are really not promises at all,” he wrote. “The courts call those types of fake promises illusionary and they do not enforce agreements based on them.”

Bummer ...

Well, we can still get him for breaking and entering …