Unfortunately, for employers, no business is completely safe from labor disputes. Even if you follow all laws to the letter, there is nothing stopping a disgruntled employee from making a claim. Fortunately, in addition to following all applicable laws, there are actions which, if avoided, can lessen your chances of being subjected to legal claims. Here are three employer actions which can increase the likelihood of a lawsuit:
1. Firing Someone Without an Explanation
When you let someone go, the reason might seem obvious to you. This is especially true in instances of employee misconduct or poor performance. But you should never assume that the explanation is obvious to the employee. Any time that you are terminating a member of your staff, you need to be clear as to the reason why. Otherwise, the employee is left to presume, and his presumption may be that you acted unfairly or illegally in your decision.
2. Failing to Consistently Apply Policies
An employment manual and the policies in it are in place for a reason: to ensure that all employees are following the same set of rules. But when you do not apply those rules consistently, you leave room for the idea that the unfair treatment may be based on race, gender, or any other discriminatory basis.
3. Failing to Document Behavioral or Performance Issues
When an employee fails to follow the rules, the kindest presumption is that this was a one-time incident. This presumption leads many employees to avoid documenting issues until they start to pile up (or perhaps never documenting them at all). But when a mistake is made, you never know where it will lead. By documenting errors and misbehaviors as they occur, you can ensure that you will have an accurate record in case termination becomes necessary in the future.
Labor complaints and other lawsuits can be blindsiding to many employers who thought that they were acting within the law. Following steps to avoid the above three actions can help to lessen the chances that your practice will face a complaint from an employee who believes they have been treated unfairly. Documentation and preparation can go a long way towards protecting your practice, and these policies should be implemented as quickly as possible.