When it comes to running a business, retaliation lawsuits from an employee are sometimes a reality. While there are some circumstances that are out of your hands when it comes to a current or former employee deciding to bring legal action against your company, that does not mean you can not take certain steps to limit the possibility of a legal suit. Here are five crucial points to study over that could help keep you out of civil litigation with your workforce.
1. Background Check: Performing a pre-employment background screening is one of the most crucial aspects of limiting your chances of being sued by a member of your workforce. A professional background check is imperative in finding out about any criminal history on a potential candidate. Although you should not discriminate against anyone with a criminal background, it is within your rights to deny employment to someone who has a criminal offense that can directly affect the production of your business.
Let’s say that you own/manage a nursing facility, it is fair to assume that someone with a recent criminal history of assault and battery could be a danger to not only the residents but also to fellow employees. By bringing in such a candidate, you could greatly increase your chances of having litigation brought against your company.
2. Company Policies: This aspect is also important when it comes to preventing litigation being brought from current employees. Almost every company these days has some form of a ‘rules/policies’ manual for their workforce. However, that does not always mean that management strongly enforces these rules for their employees.
It is crucial that employees adhere to the policies that are set in place. When an employee claims to be sexually harassed by another employee, it is not just the accused that can have legal action brought against him/her, but your company as well. By ensuring that all employees (new and current) are notified of the rules and guidelines, whether through personal sessions or company meetings, you are strengthening your chances of creating a workplace where employees can feel safe and secure.
3. Strong HR Department: This third point is important because of how it ties in with the aspect of your company’s rules and policies. A strong HR department can not only help teach and maintain the rules and guidelines of the company, it can also ensure that employees are up-to-date with any changes made to your policies.
An HR department is also useful for when employees have complaints or concerns about their working conditions or fellow co-workers. Proper HR can resolve such issues before they snowball into something more serious such as a lawsuit. If you feel as though your HR team may be lacking in some areas, it would be wise to add more resources into that department for the betterment of your entire company.
4. Proper Documentation/Filing: Even if you have the strongly implemented guidelines and the proper HR personnel to enforce them, both of those aspects are only as good as the proper paperwork that proceeds them. It is imperative that proper documentation is written up and filed away when performing any sort of professional task (i.e. hiring, training, payroll, disciplinary actions, performance reviews, termination) involving an employee. In July of this year, a plaintiff was awarded over $4 million from his former employer for wrongful termination and discrimination. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s termination was simply based on performance reviews and nothing else. However, such claims of performance reviews were not properly documented. This case shows how imperative it is to properly document all your dealings to protect the company from employee retaliation.
5. Hiring a Capable Attorney: Let’s face it, you can take all the advice from the steps previously mentioned, the fact is, there is still a chance that a lawsuit could be brought forth from multiple workforce reasons. If that moment were to ever come, it is important to have a professional and competent attorney to help protect your business.
Before you hire the first attorney that shows up on a google search, it would be wise to check the reviews of all your choices as well as seeing if any other business owners have an attorney that they would recommend. Dealing is something that you want to resolve as quickly as possible, but rushing the process of finding the proper legal counsel could be a costly mistake.
Having an attorney should not only be for when a lawsuit is brought against your company. Competent attorneys are just as important for offering advice when it comes to any of the previous steps mentioned. Conducting background checks, writing out company policies and conducting hiring practices are all things that can and should be reviewed by an attorney who is well versed in the rules and regulations of the EEOC.
Conclusion: Lawsuits are probably the last thing you want to think about when it comes to owning/running a business, but they are something that you do not want to take lightly. One simple or silly mistake made by you or anyone from the company could be a costly one at that. If you truly want to limit your chances of receiving a lawsuit, it is best to be pro-active rather than reactive.
Here at Sentinel Background Checks, we pride ourselves in our ability to conduct comprehensive pre-employment background screenings. With all our experience and industry credentials, including a NAPBS accreditation, we guarantee a safe and exceptional background check for all your future hires. Check us out at sbchecks.com to learn more.