There are many reasons a company might get sued by its employees, ranging from wrongful termination and discrimination to work-related injury and harassment. Incorporating these practices might reduce the odds of a lawsuit. Take a look.
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Have an employee handbook and follow it
Your company needs to provide your workers with written guidelines and policies. This handbook should detail everyone’s job, provide everyone with a clear understanding of what is expected of them and specify the company’s goals. Once you hire someone, you should make sure they get proper training and are introduced to the rules. Explain that the breaking of a rule can lead to termination.
However, you need to realize that the rules also apply to you-you and all the supervisors have to adhere to the guidelines as well. In case someone in a higher position does not follow the policies of the company, any terminated employee can use that to their defense. Additionally, make sure these guidelines are updated regularly.
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Having records of everything that happens in your company is very useful in dismissing a case against you. Every interaction should be documented. Reviews and performance evaluations are crucial for determining who is right. All complaints and problems should be documented as well. All of these papers can help you prove that a termination was not wrongful or that a promotion was earned in a fair manner.
Know how to handle termination
If you handle a termination in a poor manner, you could have a disgruntled ex-employee who might want to sue you. In addition, this might damage your reputation and lower the morale among the remaining workers.
If you see that an employee needs to improve their performance, you can issue a coaching notice. They should then be aware of the problem and try to react accordingly. If you see no improvements during the coaching process, you can write a disciplinary note that includes all specific ways to improve. It also provides you with a paper trail if you decide to let them go.
Put them on probation and consult with your lawyer to make sure there are no red flags. If there are any problems, see how you can solve them. If their performance does not improve, you have the right to terminate them.
Investigate harassment allegations
If an employee comes to you with a problem, discuss it with them, look for a solution together and think of needed actions. Consider all allegations seriously, document everything and investigate in a timely manner. Have in mind that the employees usually first contact HR in order to solve this issue. A lawsuit is a result of the issue being mishandled by HR. Whether sexual, verbal or emotional, these incidents need to be dealt with properly.
Have proper insurance
Your business needs to have various types of insurance from property and vehicle to professional liability insurance. However, the one you must not neglect is the workers’ compensation insurance. This will pay for the medical expenses in case an employee is ever injured at work. In case you fail to provide this, they can turn to professional workers compensation solicitors to determine whether they have a case against you.
You need to keep track of all the work hours of your staff. When they work overtime, you need to pay them accordingly. If you fail to pay, they can sue you. If you try to alter the time records of your workers, you can also be sued. Additionally, don’t try to work out other ways of paying for the overtime.
Be consistent and don’t have favorites
You need to make sure that all policies are consistent and that you treat everyone in the same manner. You cannot favor certain employees and discriminate against others. A lawsuit can be filed if you refused to give someone a day off for their religious observance or if you promoted only a certain gender. If you are friends with someone outside the office, don’t treat them any differently from other employees.
Avoid illegal pre-employment questions
You need to familiarize yourself with illegal questions that you should not ask candidates at job interviews. Questions concerning gender, sexual orientation, religion etc. can be later used against you in a discrimination lawsuit.
Don’t be too kind
Some managers and supervisors try to be kind to the employees in order to spare their feelings. By only providing them with positive feedback, you risk a lawsuit. Workers that are terminated can use these reviews as evidence that they were fired without a good enough reason. However, that does not mean that you should be rude towards them. Treat them with respect and kindness and show them that you care about them.
Sometimes, a lawsuit just cannot be avoided. However, if you have these tips in mind, you will tremendously decrease the chances of getting sued.
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