Dental and Medical Counsel Blog

What to Do if One of Your Dental Employees Sues you

June 8, 2022
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My Employee Is Suing Me!

Suppose you recently found out that a current or former employee of your dental practice is suing you or filing a claim against you with the state or federal government. In that case, you may have experienced a sinking feeling – perhaps a mixture of shock and dread. It’s a huge rupture to the day-to-day life of a dental practice to have a conflict with an employee escalate to the level of a claim or a lawsuit. Dealing with lawsuits, in particular, is time-consuming, stressful, and costly.

Unfortunately, you can’t just ignore an employee’s claim or lawsuit, even if you think it is totally without merit.

What Happens When an Employee Files a Claim for Wrongful Termination, Disability or Other Type of Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, or Wage and Hour Disputes?

In some cases, employees or former employees are required to file a claim with an administrative agency, such as the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for claims of discrimination or California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office for wage and hour disputes, before they can file a lawsuit against your practice. Exactly what happens next will depend on which agency is involved.

As an example, say a former employee files a claim with the EEOC alleging that they were fired for illegally discriminatory reasons:

The EEOC will notify you of the claim within 10 days. When you find out about the claim, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced wrongful termination lawyer for advice on how best to proceed.

You may have the option to engage in mediation or to try to reach a settlement with your former employee. You may also be asked to give information to the EEOC, including providing a statement detailing your point of view, producing documents, possibly allowing the EEOC to conduct an on-site visit, and making employees available for witness interviews with an EEOC investigator. If you have an attorney, you should discuss all of this with them to ensure that you are presenting your side of the story in the most effective way possible.

If the EEOC is not sure whether the employee was discriminated against, it will conduct an investigation. This can take about 10 months. When it’s done, the EEOC will issue an opinion as to whether there’s reasonable cause to believe unlawful discrimination took place. If you are not able to resolve the situation at this point, the employee or the EEOC itself may sue you in court. Even if the EEOC cannot reach a conclusion, the employee will still have the right to sue you in federal court within 90 days.

How to Handle a Lawsuit From an Employee or Former Employee

If an employee or former employee sues you for discrimination, wrongful terminationsexual harassment, or wage and hour claims, you should talk to an experienced litigation attorney. You should never attempt to represent yourself in a lawsuit even if you believe that the employee’s claims are clearly wrong.

These are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t panic. With the help of your attorney, you can handle this.
  2. You have not been singled out. Wrongful termination, discrimination, and other lawsuits filed by employees against their employers are more common than you may think.
  3. Being hit with a lawsuit doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Anyone can sue someone even if they don’t have a good or a legally defensible reason. That doesn’t mean the court will see things their way.
  4. Don’t contact the employee directly.
  5. Don’t give in to any demands from anyone without talking to your attorney.
  6. Don’t delete or throw out documents.
  7. Do gather documents and any other material relating to the lawsuit to give to your attorney.
  8. Your attorney will guide you through the legal process. Be sure to ask any questions that you may have.

Where Can I Find Wrongful Termination Lawyers Near Me?

Finding a lawyer in the immediate neighborhood is no longer as important as finding the lawyer who is the best fit for your needs. With the rise of virtual legal services, you have a bigger range of possibilities for choosing the discrimination, wage and hour, harassment, or wrongful termination attorney who is best for your situation.

At Dental & Medical Counsel, we provide legal representation exclusively to dentists, doctors, veterinarians, and opticians. We understand how dental practices work and what dentists need. We are located in San Ramon, California, but are available to represent and defend dentists throughout the state. For the defense of wrongful termination California dentists trust, contact us for a free consultation.

Preventing Employee Lawsuits

Whenever possible, it’s best to try to prevent employees from suing in the first place. We can help you set up and maintain procedures and systems that will lower the chance that you will be sued. These include:

  1. Setting up and maintaining employee manuals. If done correctly, these will help you prove you are in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local employment laws. Have employees sign and date acknowledgments that they have read and understood the manual. Make sure the manuals are kept up to date with any changes in the law.
  2. Making sure that you are complying with all federal and state wage and hour laws, including laws on minimum wage, overtime, break time, classification of employees as exempt or non-exempt, and classification of workers as employees or independent contractors. You also need to make sure that your payroll is being handled correctlyaccording to state law requirements. Our HR for Health software system can help keep you on track.
  3. Creating clear written policies stating that your practice has zero-tolerance for discrimination.
  4. Terminating employees only for legitimate business reasons and documenting the process.

We have extensive experience working with dental practices in California, helping them set up systems that will both lower the risk of lawsuits and provide strong evidence to be used to defend against lawsuits if they do arise. Contact us for a free consultation.

Schedule A Free Consultation Now

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

 

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