Employee lawsuits can be expensive, even if you end up winning. If you have employees, avoiding employment disputes is vital to success. Here, we’ll go over six tips for avoiding employment disputes.
1. Set Clear Expectations
First, employees are less likely to sue if their expectations are clearly set forth. By taking the time to make sure your requirements are both fair and clear, there’s less of a chance that an employee will feel that they are being treated unfairly.
All employees should know exactly what performance standards they need to meet and how their performance will be measured.
2. Establish Sound Policies
The policies that impact your employees should all be perfectly clear and well-designed. Clear, soundly designed policies will make sure everyone understands how things are done in your company. In particular, you want policies on hiring, firing, discipline, promotions, raises, and other matters related to your employees.
These policies should be accessible to everyone in your company, and new hires should be required to review them prior to working. Having them sign a statement that they have read your policies can help discourage disputes in the future.
3. Treat People Well
One of the primary motivators behind employee disputes is the feeling of being mistreated. If an employer is rude—or appears to be rude—toward their employees, the odds of a lawsuit increase. While poor treatment may not necessarily be grounds for a lawsuit in and of itself, it may prompt individuals to find something that is.
Bullying, insulting, or yelling at employees should be avoided. In addition, it’s important to keep commitments since repeatedly canceling meetings with employees (or union representatives) may be seen as a slight.
4. Avoid Discrimination
In some cases, a slight toward an employee could be interpreted as discrimination. Discriminatory policies or practices constitute grounds for a lawsuit, so take care when making decisions regarding hiring, firing, changing hours, reassignment, decreasing pay, or anything else that could negatively affect an employee, especially those who fit within a protected class.
Some policies may also inadvertently cause a discriminatory impact, so it’s worth reviewing your company’s policies every so often to make sure they don’t unfairly affect individuals of a specific class.
5. Do Not Retaliate
Any action that could be seen as retaliatory should be avoided. If an employee complains or reports misconduct, even if that complaint/report is invalid, you should refrain from retaliation. Aside from whistleblower protection laws that may apply in situations involving regulatory breaches, retaliation can be grounds for a lawsuit.
6. Keep Updating Your Policies
Finally, make sure you keep your policies up to date. Laws change, as can the overall conditions and standards surrounding your industry. Even adopting new technology may necessitate policy adjustments to make sure your working environment is suitable for your workforce. As sound as your current policies may be, regulatory shifts may require adjustments in the future. Review your policies regularly, and when a change is needed, make sure it’s communicated to your staff in a timely manner.
Outside counsel can be invaluable as you strive to keep your policies up to date and avoid employment disputes. Hart David Carson LLP can guide you through minimizing the risk of disputes with your employees.