Dental and Medical Counsel Blog

How Human Resources Software Can Help Protect Optometry Practices From Lawsuits

July 9, 2022
HR process

If you’re the owner or manager of an optometry practice, one of your top priorities is recruiting and managing the members of your team. Part of that responsibility is staying in compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws. That can be challenging when you don’t have an in-house human resources department.

When it comes to employment law, it’s important to get things right. If you accidentally fall out of compliance with the law, you could be faced with stressful, time-consuming, and expensive employee claims or lawsuits.

If you’re an optometrist, you work hard at doing what you do best and don’t have the time to try to keep up with constantly changing laws. That’s where we come in. The employment lawyers at Dental & Medical Counsel can help you create and implement policies and procedures that will minimize the chances of employee lawsuits. If an employee does file a claim or lawsuit, we are available to represent and defend you.

Our lead attorney also created a software package, HR for Health, that will automate many of your employee-related tasks. Even better, it was designed with compliance issues in mind and is specifically tailored for medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary practices.

It’s like having an HR department living inside your computer. It can give you tremendous peace of mind to know that your payroll, timekeeping, employee manuals, and other HR functions are being handled correctly, in accordance with all relevant laws, without you having to worry about it.

How Payroll Processing Software Can Help Avoid or Defend Against Wage and Hour Claims

Some of the most common types of employee claims and lawsuits stem from disputes about wages paid and hours worked. Employees may claim that you:

  • Paid less than the minimum wage
  • Didn’t pay the proper amount for overtime work
  • Didn’t allow them to take legally mandated breaks
  • Misclassified them as independent contractors

California wage and hour law, in particular, is very complicated. If you are trying to process your payroll on your own, it’s easy to make a mistake and run afoul of one or more of California’s complex rules of required payments and work breaks.

The payroll processing module of HR for Health will take the worry out of paydays. It will help ensure that you stay compliant with federal, state, and local wage and hour laws. It can also save you a lot of time. You should be able to get your payroll processing done in under 10 minutes.

HR for Health also includes a sophisticated timekeeping system. It provides concrete records of the hours each employee worked as well as the dates and reasons for the time taken off. These records can provide essential evidence if an employee claims they worked more hours than they actually did.

Unfortunately, no matter how great your system and how perfectly you comply with the law, an employee might still file a claim or a lawsuit. They have the right to do that even if their claim turns out not to be valid. Your best weapon for defending against these lawsuits is to have the records to prove that you paid the employee correctly and in accordance with the law.

HR for Health will help ensure that your payroll records are complete, organized, and easily accessible. Hopefully, you will never be in a position where you have to defend against a lawsuit, but if you do, having good records will provide the crucial evidence you need to help win your case as quickly as possible.

How Employee Manuals Can Help You Avoid Lawsuits

No matter how carefully you recruit your team members, and no matter how great they seem in the beginning, sometimes employees just don’t work out. You may not be able to give some employees the promotions they expect. In some cases, you’ll have to terminate a team member.

In California and in most states, you have the right to terminate an employee for any reason as long as the reason is not illegal. Illegal reasons include firing someone because of their race, gender, religion, or membership in any of the other protected classes under state or federal law. It’s also illegal to fire someone to retaliate against them because they asserted their legally protected rights.

One of the best ways to prevent or defend against employee discrimination claims or lawsuits is to be able to show that you had legitimate business reasons for terminating the employee, not promoting them, or taking some other employment action that they didn’t like. Ideally, you should be able to show that you have specific policies or procedures in place that the employee violated, and that the employee knew about these policies before choosing to go against them.

The best evidence of your policies is to have them written down. An employment manual is an excellent way to do that. You will be able to produce evidence that the employee knew about your policies if you make sure that:

  • Every new hire gets a copy of the handbook soon after they start
  • All employees get new copies when the handbook is updated
  • Everyone signs and dates a statement saying they received the handbook, read it and understood it

An employment manual fulfills another important function in preventing discrimination claims when it states that discrimination will not be tolerated in your practice.

HR for Health makes it easy to produce an employee handbook that is tailored for the specific needs of your practice. Because HR for Health was designed by an employment lawyer, your handbook will help you stay in compliance with all applicable anti-discrimination laws.

Your Documents Aren’t Worth Anything If You Can’t Find Them

To stay compliant with federal, state, and local employment law, and to find evidence, when you need to, of how you have handled employment matters, you have to attend to a lot of details. It’s easy to forget a crucial step and leave yourself vulnerable to employee claims. And when it comes time to present evidence, all the documentation in the world won’t do you any good if you’ve misplaced it.

HR for Health keeps your employment documents stored securely in the cloud. Everything is organized and easy to access. It’s a big improvement over rummaging through filing cabinets or looking for an important document that has disappeared.

The HR software will also guide you through the actions you need to take. You don’t have to remember all the little details yourself. Let the computer remember things – that’s what it’s good at – while you do what you’re best at – taking care of your patients.

A Human Resources  Department on Your Desk

While it would be nice if every optometry practice could have its own human resources department, that’s just not feasible for small practices. With HR for Health, you can have all the essential human resource functions at a reasonable cost.

This attorney-designed HR platform will help you stay in compliance with all the employment laws that apply to healthcare practices in your area. You can customize it further to meet the specific needs of your practice. In addition to helping you avoid lawsuits, the HR platform will save you time and money by streamlining your payroll and other HR functions.

And if you ever do get sued, or an employee files a claim against you with the state or federal government, HR for Health will have safely stored all your documents and payroll records. Being able to access concrete and detailed evidence of what you have done can be the key to winning your case. So can hiring experienced employment lawyers to represent you.

The lawyers at Dental & Medical Counsel work only with healthcare practices, so we know the kinds of employment issues that occur in practices like yours, and we know what to do about them. At Dental and Medical Counsel, we are proud to be one of the most trusted law firms that optometrists use when dealing with HR and employment topics. When you are ready to learn more, the optometry attorney team at Dental and Medical Counsel is available to help. Contact us to set up a complimentary consultation with, award-winning attorney, Ali Oromchian.

Get in touch with us for a complimentary Consultation

At Dental & Medical Counsel, PC, we understand optometrists have trouble navigating the legal process. We believe every optometrist deserves the best advice and service so doctors can do what they do best, treat their patients. We make optometrists' lives easier by providing expert guidance, so they can focus on their personal and professional aspirations.


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