The number of employment-related lawsuits in America increases each year. These include cases on unsafe work conditions, discrimination, harassment, unfair pay and many others. Being involved in an employment-related lawsuit can be devastating for a business, both in emotional and financial terms. Not to mention that it can have a huge impact on the company’s reputation.
It is important for businesses to be aware of the principal reasons why employees might sue them. This information will help them to take necessary measures to improve the work environment and practises in order to protect themselves. Here are some of the most common reasons why employees sue their employers.
- Not being clear or honest upon dismissal
An employee may decide to raise an unfair dismissal claim against you if they have not been given a reason, or a good reason, for being sacked. If they don’t understand why, they are likely to consider the dismissal unfair. Unfortunately, employers sometimes have to let employees go. It is important to be as honest and clear with staff about the reason for their dismissal. With this information, they are more likely to be understanding and willing to move on.
- Real or perceived harassment
Harassment is another common reason why employees sue their employers. It is important to communicate a no tolerance policy on this form of inappropriate conduct to your employees. Some effective ways to do this are to create a confidential reporting system for staff and to follow up on all cases, no matter how trivial you may think they are. Training for senior members of staff should also be provided, so they know how to detect and deal with cases of harassment.
- Real or perceived discrimination
Discrimination in the workplace often results in a lawsuit. You should make yourself familiar with discrimination law so that you fully understand what it involves and how to avoid it. A reporting mechanism, dealing with every case and training staff should all be included in your policy against discrimination in the workplace.
- Negative treatment following dismissal
Employees will often seek legal advice where they believe that their employer has defamed them on dismissal. For example, negative comments in a reference letter may give rise to a lawsuit of this nature. You should have a strong policy in place for providing references to ex-employees. If that employee dismissed for poor performance or conduct, the safest option is to offer a reference in neutral language. Perhaps only include facts, such as dates and duties, and avoid any opinions on performance or conduct.
The employee-employer relationship can at times be a challenging one. To avoid a legal dispute with a member of staff, it’s important that you comply with the law, follow recommendations and create robust policies to protect your business. It’s also crucial to always remember the value of your employees. Treat your staff in a fair and respectful manner and you will be far more likely to establish long-term and positive relationships with them.