Avoid These Common Legal Employment Pitfalls
Very often, simple mistakes that managers and supervisors make can lay the foundation for an expensive lawsuit against the firm. It’s only when those employment lawsuits actually make their way to court that managers hear about a perceived insult, or a minor slight, which might not have registered at the time, but made an impact on the employee.
To avoid such miscommunication, have solid, watertight policies in the workplace. Avoid bending workplace policies for any one person. Very often, managers make the mistake of being lenient in a particular situation with one worker, not realizing that other employees will expect the same treatment. For instance, if you do not currently require that any disabled employee get medical leave certification from their doctor when they require leave, do not ask your pregnant employee for similar certification.
Managers may not think of such actions as favoritism, but rest assured that employees will. In a lawsuit, employees will likely to raise the issue of other workers being allowed certain accommodations that they were not. It may not seem like an accommodation to you, but resist bending the rules to please anyone in the workplace.
It cannot be stressed enough. Conduct regular performance evaluations. Very often, evaluations are conducted only at the beginning of an employee’s career, and after a while, those evaluations either become irregular or perfunctory at best. A performance evaluation allows an employee to learn whether there are things that he can do to better his performance. If an employee has been fired for poor performance, do not be surprised if he alleges that poor performance was not the basis for his firing at all, because he was never warned about poor performance during any evaluation.
Don’t just perform your evaluations. Record these in documentation. You must have solid paperwork that document exactly what transpired during the evaluation, the employee’s performance, as well as the recommendations that you made to the employee.
Take extra care to make sure that every workplace-related decision that you make is connected only to the performance of the employee and not his race, gender or any other factor. Sometimes, it can be easy to assume that a male employee will be able to do a job better than a female, but such assumptions will only expose you to the risk of litigation.