Employers have a lot to worry about in today’s business climate. Unfortunately, not all the risks employers face are the results of their own actions. In fact, some are the results of action of other employees, human resources, and hiring personnel.
Employment practices lawsuits may come as a big surprise to business owners, but truthfully, there are often a few warning signs that could prevent the lawsuit altogether. Understanding what these signs are and how to respond could save your business a great deal of time, money, and embarrassment.
Signs of Trouble in the Workplace
Most employees don’t go from unhappy to lawsuit in a single action. For many it takes a series of events and actions (or inactions) to reach the point where employees feel the only recourse left is legal action. These are a few signs that all is not well and that legal action may be coming.
Employee Complains of Harassment and/or Discrimination
This is especially problematic if your company doesn’t have a policy in place for dealing with harassment complaints in place. While you want to believe your employees would never harass or discriminate against coworkers, it happens all the time in workplaces.
You need to have policies in place that identify harassing behavior and outline the resources available to employees who have been harassed. It needs to be a written policy and you need to educate employers and supervisor on the policy and its implementation.
If an employee has filed an EEOC complaint, it means things have escalated. This is a precursor to most legal complaints. Mediation is a possibility with an EEOC complaint but those do not always end successfully.
The recent layoffs, followed with long-term unemployment have seen an increase in the numbers of employment practices and liabilities lawsuits filed against employers. Most of these are filed by people who would otherwise never consider such a lawsuit but feel they now have no other options available to them.
There are quite a few common complaints among those who file employment practices lawsuits including many of the following:
- Mental Distress
- Discrimination (Race, Disability, Religion, Gender, Nationality, Sexual Orientation)
- Hostile Work Environment
- Sexual Harassment
- National Origin Harassment
- Religious Harassment
The key is to create an atmosphere in your workplace that embraces diversity and does not tolerate these actions from employees.
Protecting Your Business from Employment Practices Lawsuits
Prevention is the best cure when it comes to avoiding employment practices lawsuits. Educate your employees and supervisors about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in your workplace. Put policies in writing and enforce those policies. Document everything. Don’t forget to conduct pre-employment screenings to reduce discrimination claims.
Despite your best efforts to create a diverse workplace with policies in place to protect all workers, there are times when lawsuits may be filed against you. When those times come, it’s important to protect your business interests by having employment practices liability insurance.