Employee lawsuits often hit the heart and soul of a business. Even if you don’t believe you’re doing anything wrong, in some cases, you may be violating the law by your actions or, more specifically, inactions when complaints about certain acts in the workplace are levied against you or your employees.
Employers must take all sexual harassment complaints seriously and investigate them fully. It’s important to take appropriate action whether it’s a male or female employee making the claim. Failing to give it the attention it requires could cost your business in a major way if the employee decides to escalate things through a lawsuit. A sexual harassment insurance policy for small businesses is certainly protection, but every sexual harassment complaints need to be fully investigated.
Work Place Injury
Take caution when firing someone in the aftermath of receiving a workplace injury. Without a compelling reason and sufficient documentation, you could be opening yourself up to a lawsuit. That’s why it’s so important to keep accurate up-to-date records on all employee interactions and incidents. This way, if there is cause to fire an employee, you have adequate documentation of that cause.
This is a huge umbrella for a broad range of topics and workplace issues. Employees are protected on the federal level from certain discriminatory hiring (and firing practices) and still more on the state level in many states. Make sure you know that laws in your state and avoid the appearance of discrimination when it comes to hiring and/or firing at all times. Employment Practices Liability Insurance, or EPLI offers important protection here.
People who are fired quickly after filing a complaint often feel that the firing was done in retaliation of the complaint that was filed. Before firing any employees and to help avoid wrongful employee termination, it’s a wise plan to go back through employment records and verify that there have been no complaints filed by or on behalf of that employee in recent months so that your business doesn’t appear to be firing in retaliation.
In addition, keep records of all complaints, commendations, performance reviews, recommendations, and considerations regarding to each employee. These records are lifelines if complaints are made.
Unsafe Working Environment
Employers must take the requirement to provide a safe working environment seriously. One of the most important charges employers have today is the one to protect the people who work for you. Create certain protocols and safety policies in your business. Require employees to follow them and outline direct consequences for failure to do so. Conduct routine inspections to ensure continued adherence to safety policies.
Other potential employee lawsuits include pregnancy discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation (this is only protected in some states), bullying, harassment, creating a hostile work environment, and invasion of privacy. Take action now to create hiring practices that protect you from these potential lawsuits.
Additionally, develop employee training for your hiring staff to help them avoid making common hiring mistakes that would make your business vulnerable to lawsuits such as these. Finally, update your system of performance reviews and record keeping so that there are always adequate records on hand to support firing employees when it becomes necessary.
Despite the most stringent policies and careful efforts on your part to avoid lawsuits related to hiring or firing employees, they sometimes happen. That’s why it’s so important to invest in an adequate amount of Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). It doesn’t eliminate the possibility of lawsuits, but it does help your business deal with legal fees and financial recovery if one does occur.