Unfortunately, there is simply no foolproof way to guarantee that your company will never get sued. You can prepare all you want and take every step possible to try to prevent lawsuits, but we live in a litigious society where just about anyone can sue your business for just about anything.
Your best course of action is to mitigate your risk and put your company in the most advantageous position possible to win any lawsuit that is brought against your business.
One area in particular in which you need to take significant steps to mitigate your risk is in employment. Many employers make the mistake of focusing their risk-management efforts on sources outside their company, like consumers and vendors, when in fact, some of the most detrimental lawsuits against you can come from within.
Your employees should be an asset—not a liability. Thus, we have detailed some useful tips below to help you minimize your risk of employee lawsuits and put you in a strong position should an employee lawsuit ever arise.
Always assume the worst
If you truly want to be prepared for litigation, you need to operate under the assumption that any issue with an employee could result in a lawsuit. Always err on the side of caution, and treat disputes or problems with employees as if it will lead to litigation. This way, you should always be prepared and protected if the employee does sue.
Detailed handbook and clear policies/expectations
Nearly every company should have a detailed employee handbook that outlines all important and relevant information that your employees need to know about your company. It should clearly explain your company’s policies and expectations of employees so that there are no misunderstandings about how the employee is supposed to conduct themselves. Such misunderstands have a high potential to lead to legal action. If you can demonstrate that the employee was provided with your handbook and properly informed of your policies and expectations, most types of employee lawsuits will have little ground to stand on.
Know the law and your obligations
It would be a massive understatement to say that there are a lot of employment laws. Nonetheless, employers need to ensure that they and their managers are well-informed of the law and their obligations under the law. Knowing what is legally required of you as an employer is the first step in ensuring you fulfill our obligations rather than providing employees with opportunities to sue.
Have a clear system of progressive discipline
Even in Right-to-Work states, wrongful termination lawsuits are a real possibility. It is important to develop and document a system of progressive discipline that will be clear to your employees. However, you should not guarantee that this system will be followed. Use it whenever possible, but there may be situations where termination is warranted without progressive discipline.
Treat your employees well
The fact is, happy employees are much less likely to sue you for minor issues. Do whatever you can to treat your employees well, and you have a much better chance of avoiding legal issues with them.
Trainings on discrimination and harassment
In order to avoid discrimination and harassment lawsuits, which constitute a large portion of employee-related legal actions, you should hold regular trainings with all of your employees to help them understand what constitutes harassment and discrimination. You must ensure you are sensitive to these serious workplace issues.
If you have the slightest inkling that there could be an issue with an employee, you should do your best to document every interaction with that employee. Include dates and times, what was said, and any actions you took. This is especially true if you are taking disciplinary action against an employee.
Conduct employee evaluations
Regularly conducting face-to-face employee evaluations gives you a chance to voice your concerns, and gives the employee a chance to voice their own. This is a savvy way to nip potential lawsuits in the bud before they blow up into something much bigger. Listen and do your best to address your employee’s concerns. If they feel they have a voice, they are more likely to try to communicate workplace problems before simply seeking to take legal action.
A skilled business attorney like those at The Campbell Law Group can help ensure your company is always compliant with employment laws and advise you on risk mitigation strategies that are specific and personalized to your company. No one can eliminate the risk of getting sued, but you can certainly take steps to minimize your risk and protect yourself when lawsuits do arise. Contact The Campbell Law Group today to learn how we can help.