“Right before we get started, a man hands me a pile of documents. ‘Fill these out, please.’ The top one’s a W-4. I guess I’m hired.
I scribble in all the tax stuff and sign the form. Then I flip through the rest of the pages, reading their headings. It’s all legal mumbo-jumbo like ‘Release of Tort Liability,’ ‘Waiver of § 1983, § 2000e-2, and Similar Actions,’ ‘Power of Attorney,’ ‘Consent to Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical Treatment and Disclosure,’ ‘Section 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Corporation Bylaws,’ ‘Intellectual Property Agreement and Remedies,’ ‘Determination of Governing Law,’ and other garbage.”
- “W-4” : a tax form every employee must fill out so the IRS can deduct income taxes from that employee.
- “Release of Tort Liability” : If she signs this, she can’t sue them over anything awful that happens to her, physically or emotionally, as a result of stuff they do to her, even if it’s intentional.
- “Waiver of § 1983, § 2000e-2, and Similar Actions” : If she signs this, she can’t sue them over discrimination, harassment, or anything like those.
- “Power of Attorney” : If she signs this, she’s given them legal power to act in her name.
- “Consent to Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical Treatment and Disclosure” : If she signs this, they can do any medical procedure they want on her. This is Bob’s favorite document– he’s had some long-running experiments…
- “Section 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Corporation Bylaws” : There are lots of intriguing bylaws in this particular non-profit. Some of them become more important in “Entropy.” Unfortunately for her, she didn’t read any of them.
- “Intellectual Property Agreement and Remedies” : If she signs this, she can’t disclose to anyone what they’re doing at the office. If she does, her co-workers are authorized to impose any of myriad terrible remedies (some of which become allowable by her consent to non-emergency medical treatment).
- “Determination of Governing Law” : Conflict of laws, whether between states in the USA or between countries, is a wonderful area of law with lots of reasonable rules. It also is fraught with some serious moral choices. Where people are traveling to different political systems in different times and making agreements (contracts) there, there could be conflicts over whether those agreements should be in force when back in one’s own spacetime. This document helps settle those issues in advance. Certain things Thomas experienced led him to insist on having this document drawn up. (You can learn about some of those things in book three, “Entanglement.”)