How to Avoid Employee Litigation
Employment relations are a potential minefield for litigation these days. No employer wants to be the target of an employee lawsuit. Not only are these lawsuits difficult to defend, and expensive, but they are also time-consuming and could damage the reputation of your business. Some types of discrimination and harassment lawsuits can be catastrophic for a company’s reputation, and may lead to a public backlash against the company.
You cannot afford to ignore the importance of taking proactive action to minimize the risk of lawsuits targeting your company. One of the biggest reasons employers find themselves embroiled in litigation is because of their failure to keep abreast of the laws in the Fair Labor Standards Act. For instance, there are mistakes employers make very often in the classification and categorization of employees that can actually get them slapped with an employment lawsuit. Other common mistakes include failing to comply with the standards related to off- the- clock work, tips and wages and other mistakes.
Some of the biggest risks also come when you hire an employee or fire him. When you decide to fire an employee, do not go into the meeting without knowing fully well what you are going to say and having a very clear picture in your mind about exactly why you want to fire him. Don’t be vague. In fact, firing someone is one of the easiest routes to employment litigation these days. Do not fire the employee on the spot, or soon after the incident has taken place. Ideally, the person should be placed on administrative leave, and an investigation should be carried out. All of these processes must be documented meticulously.
In many cases, managers and supervisors are not even able to identify harassment or discrimination in the workplace, because they are older employees who were used to an older, less politically correct workplace. For instance, a couple of decades ago some amount of banter in the workplace was considered fairly harmless, and would never lead to a courtroom. However, obscene jokes, or unnecessary banter between colleagues these days, could very quickly lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Train your supervisors and manages about the kind of behavior – even though it may seem innocent- that could actually lay the grounds for a lawsuit.