Employing people carries its inherent risks. As much as you might try to minimize those risks during the hiring and training process, you may still find yourself facing liabilities down the road. Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid employment lawsuits. These include careful compliance, advance preparation, and generally taking good care of your employees.
It’s important to know what the rules are in all aspects of your business operations, but it’s especially important when it comes to working with employees. Laws ranging from workplace safety and health under OSHA to equal employment opportunity and discrimination should all be considered.
Be aware of all laws that pertain to your business and make sure you create policies designed to help your organization adhere to them. In addition, make sure your internal practices both uphold and enforce regulatory compliance with respect to your employees. Doing so will limit your exposure to lawsuits, often deterring them before they even start.
Work With Employees
Your relationship with your employees should not be adversarial. One of the best ways to avert potential lawsuits is to treat personnel well from the moment they begin work in your company. In addition, you’ll want to make sure you set clear expectations. A few ways to do this include:
- Define success so they know what is expected of them.
- Equip them for success with effective training and coaching.
- Review their performance regularly and offer feedback as needed.
Finally, when it comes to terminating employees, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to them. Personnel who consistently underperform should be given multiple warnings before you fire them. Otherwise, sudden termination may appear unfair, provoking legal action.
In essence, if employees feel like you’re completely fair with them, they will be less likely to press charges for unlawful termination.
Workplace safety is vital to avoiding employment lawsuits. If you’re running an unsafe work environment, you will very likely face a lawsuit eventually. While employees technically cannot sue their employers if they’re hurt on the job, there are exceptions in the case of egregious negligence or willful misconduct.
Employees can also report employers for failure to comply with workplace safety standards like OSHA. As such, it’s important to comply with these laws as strictly as possible. Your policies should reflect compliance with all applicable regulations.
In addition, regular training is vital. Teaching employees the basics of workplace safety—and reviewing those basics regularly—can help prevent legal problems in the long run.
Finally, solid preparation is key. Employment lawsuits can often be discouraged—or in extreme cases defeated—if you take the time to have all necessary preparations in place. These include:
- Documenting everything, including financial data in the event of an audit.
- Carrying insurance.
- Continuously reviewing policies to bring them up to standard.
- Having an employment lawyer on your side.
In most cases, a solid legal foundation can discourage most lawsuits. In the event that a former employee does sue you, you’ll be in a much better position to defeat that lawsuit with minimal losses. For help preparing your business for the legal risks of hiring personnel, contact Hart David Carson LLP today. We’ll help you get everything squared away to keep liabilities to a minimum.