When you go to work, you don’t expect to have a negative experience. The sad truth is that some employees become disgruntled enough with their bosses to sue them!
Workers sue their employers for various reasons such as gross negligence and unfair dismissal. As an employer, you will, of course, want to avoid having to deal with legal action by your employees.
So, how best should you protect your organization from the threat of litigation? The good news is there’s plenty you can do! Most of the advice I am going to offer you today comes down to common sense. Here are the top reasons workers sue their employers, and how you can protect yourself:
Unfair disciplinary action
The ugly truth about business is that some workers will get things wrong. Usually, things can get resolved without any issue. But, in some cases, a formal disciplinary procedure may get invoked. Examples may include where staff members caused deliberate injury or hardship to other people.
Of course, employers don’t always get it right in those situations. Sometimes bosses might be too biased towards a particular person or group. And, in those cases, they could end up disciplining an innocent person.
When that happens, the employee will no doubt feel aggrieved with the situation. Rather than keep quiet, they may decide to pursue legal action against their employer. Especially if the situation results in financial consequences.
Your company can avoid such situations by having a proper disciplinary procedure in place. That may involve having independent companies scrutinize the facts.
Getting fired from your job isn’t a cause for celebration. Such an action will have a massive impact on your life, especially from a financial point of view.
Most companies will work with their employees to resolve any problems. But, there comes a time where they have no choice but to fire people for a serious issue. For instance, you may have determined that an employee stole money from you.
When you fire workers, it’s crucial that you’re covered from a legal point of view. You need to make 100% sure that it is the right decision for your business. Take the example of theft I just mentioned.
Do you have any concrete evidence of that particular employee stealing money from you? If not, they could argue in a court that you’ve not had the grounds to fire them due to lack of evidence.
Gersowitz Libo & Korek are lawyers that see many cases of unfair dismissal each year. In fact, talk to any lawyer and you’ll soon discover a pattern emerging. Firing employees is a decision you should not take lightly. Make sure you can back up and justify your claims before you dismiss them.
Harassment and discrimination
In general, we live in a more accepting and diverse society. But, there is still a few “bad apples” out there that are happy to cause trouble for others.
Another top reason for lawsuits is down to harassment and discrimination. Examples include sexual harassment, bullying, and racial prejudice.
To avoid getting sued over such reasons, it’s important you are proactive. That means tackling such issues in a prompt and proper manner. The last thing you should do is avoid the problem for fear of spoiling morale. Nor should you pretend a problem doesn’t exist, especially if your staff raise the issue with you.
The golden rule is not to tolerate any form of harassment and discrimination. No exceptions! You must also ensure that your supervisors and managers have the right training. That way, they can spot the signs and deal with the problems.
Illness and injury
Another minefield for companies is when employees need time off due to illness or injury. It doesn’t matter whether the worker was ill or hurt at work or not. What does matter is that they have plenty of time to rest and recover at home.
Quite often, the employees will also need rehabilitation and regular treatment. Only then will they get to a stage where they are fit to work again.
The shocking truth is that many companies fire people because of illness and injury! As you can appreciate, such actions open the door to costly litigation claims. The simple thing to do is not fire your employees!
Instead, you should work with them to help them have a speedy recovery. Sometimes, you might find that employees can do some of their work at home.
It’s also important that managers get trained to deal with such matters. You might also find that referring workers to occupational health specialists can help. They are third-party organizations that can suggest ways to improve the situation.
Defamation of character
It’s no secret that many employees may leave of their own accord. They may wish to start a new job or become self-employed. Did you know that some of those people sue their former employers?
The reason for doing so is often down to defamation of character. In other words, people from the old company have spread lies about the employee. If those lies get spread in public, it can damage their reputation. It can also affect their chances of getting a job elsewhere.
As you can imagine, those people affected will want answers (and compensation). They’ll want to know why you, as the owner, let such things happen in your company.
The answer to that problem is simple: tell your staff not to defame their former colleagues!
Not following internal policies and procedures
As a responsible employer, you will no doubt have a set of “house rules” in place. They are essential in some industries, especially ones that pose a danger to human life.
But, what happens if you or your staff don’t follow those policies and procedures? You could end up entangled in a legal nightmare! Many causes of negligence at work are down to inadequate training, believe it or not.
You should make sure that all employees know what they are doing. They must also prove they know and understand what their work entails.
I hope you have found today’s blog post useful. Thanks for reading it.