How To Avoid Lawsuits… From Your Employees
It might come as a big surprise but most business lawsuits involve employees. That’s right, employees are no longer scared of the big, bad boss and are hitting back with a vengeance. And they are making up for lost time. The amount of collective actions has skyrocketed by 400% since 2000 alone and it is only getting higher. From an innocent standpoint, it shouldn’t give you much cause for concern. Still, it is hard to feel some level of concern. Nowadays, a business doesn’t even have to be complicit for it to lose a lawsuit, and that is very dangerous. It is no wonder you want to tighten up and avoid a lawsuit wherever possible. In fact, it is downright logical.
What you have to ask yourself now is, ‘how do I avoid a lawsuit from an employee?’ A quick look at the rate tells you it isn’t going to be easy, and it won’t be easy. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Take a look at the following if you don’t believe the last statement. They might just save you a ton of money in the long-term.
The first and best tactic is to understand the lawsuits. Of course, you don’t need to do it in great detail because you aren’t a lawyer. But, you have to understand the basics if you want to keep your hands clean. The important thing is to understand the most common suits and why they occur. As soon as you do, you can start to take action to prevent them in the office. For example, a trip or fall is one of the most common incidents in the workplace. With that in mind, try to keep the workplace safe at all times. If you want to go one step further, even talk to a lawyer for more information. That way, you can use their legal expertise to your advantage.
Take Health & Safety Seriously
As trips and falls occur most often, the safety of your employees is paramount. However, you wouldn’t think it the way some employers disregard health and safety regulations. It is safe to say that health and safety has become a bit of a laughing stock in recent years. Nowadays, it is hard to reach for something off the shelf without the possibility of filing suit. But, just because you don’t believe in it doesn’t mean you don’t have to adhere to the rules. You are the boss, after all, and you need to provide a basic right. Sure, some of the rules are silly and only make life harder. The thing is, your life will be ten times harder if someone hurts themselves and the company is liable. Follow the rules and regulations to the letter and stay alert.
Do Business By The Book
A trip or fall might be the most common form of lawsuit, but it is by no means the only form. In reality, there is plenty of other forms that can bite you on the backside and which you’ll want to avoid. Take unlawful dismissal as an example. Firing an employee is difficult in today’s industry, so you need to be certain before you pull the trigger. Otherwise, you and the employee in question will see each other in court. The only way to be certain is to not cut corners. That means giving them a verbal warning as well as a written and final warning before acting. It also means not putting them under undue pressure. Businesses like to strike back when an employee wrongs them, yet it only adds to the suit. A tribunal will take this into account should they win and the damages will be astronomical. Treat everyone fairly even if they are the subject of a lawsuit. Scratch that: especially if they are the subject of a lawsuit.
Improve The Culture
Certain problems don’t even have to come from the top for the business to be liable. Harassment is the best example. A co-worker can harass a colleague and you can be partially liable. Sure, they might need a criminal defense attorney but you’ll need a good employment attorney. It might not seem fair but the legal system will argue you should have created a better atmosphere. And, they are right. The atmosphere in the office is your problem and you have to nullify threats before they spiral out of control. That means staying vigilant and creating a culture where people know they can talk openly and safely. Incidents like harassment tend not to be reported for a variety of reasons, so you have to read between the lines. Even better, it is always good to have spies on the inside to pass along important information.
Employ A Lawyer
At a certain point, you have to realise you aren’t a legal expert yet you are dealing with a legal issue. When you realise this, you’ll start to understand there is only so much you can do as a layman. To cover all bases, you’ll need a legal professional in your corner. They have the expertise to set up defences so that you and your employees are safe. They also have nuggets of information that will go a long way if you listen and implement them into your strategy. Finally, they understand how to deal with lawsuits. A mistake with a lawsuit is a major deal and could end your hopes of winning it from the beginning. Find an employment law specialist and keep them on retainer if you can afford to. If you can’t, keep their number on your speed dial.
Know When To Settle
A lawsuit might be unavoidable. As you can see, there is a lot of variables that you need to cover, and you won’t cover every one. So, if you do get hit by a suit, you need to know when to play hardball and when to concede. Settling out of court can save you a fortune and is a good idea for both parties. It doesn’t mean you were wrong, it just means you didn’t want to roll the dice.
Understanding when to quit while you are ahead is very important in every facet of business.