Avoiding Getting Into Legal Trouble With Your Employees
Posted on 1/17/2018 by Michael Zamora
When it comes to your business and the law, some concepts do not need much explanation. You should not, for example, need an article on why stealing from or murdering your employees is a bad idea. But all jokes aside, there are many ways to protect your practice from potential legal disputes with employees. By following these suggestions, you can improve your relationship with your employees and can address some issues before they turn into legal claims.
Communication is key. Many employee issues arise from miscommunication, misunderstandings and, even worse, non-communication. Many lawsuits could have been thwarted by simply giving the team a voice. This will reduce the number of disgruntled employees, while also providing an open door for you to clarify and address frustrations. Simply making an effort to address an employee’s frustrations goes a long way. Listening to your employees not only validates their voice and makes them feel respected, but also keeps you in the vital communication loop.
Document everything. Proper documentation can be the difference between a small issue that gets resolved immediately and a drawn-out labor claim that puts your practice at risk. Many attorneys will not even take a case if they see thorough documentation. Your documentation supports the events leading to an objective action, such as termination. Documenting all issues with employees can help to protect you, especially in claims of constructive discharge, discrimination and even retaliation.
Remember that everyone deserves respect. When you are a business owner, issues with employees can feel very personal. Remember to always keep a cool head and to treat everyone with respect, even if you feel that you are not being respected in return. The reality is that as the owner/employer you will always have a duty to be the bigger person and act in an objective manner. This is the type of thing that arbitrators will watch for the most.
Enforce policies consistently. Sporadic enforcement of your practice policies can result in hurt feelings, confusion, and legal disputes. While it may seem unfair to “punish” one of your better-performing employees, you have to remember that as a boss you cannot play favorites. Applying the same rules to everyone all the time will go a long way towards insulating yourself against allegations of discrimination and unfair application of your policies.
Unfortunately, no business is 100% insulated from legal claims. Even if you do everything right, employees can make false or otherwise baseless claims against your practice. But by following the suggestions above, you can minimize disputes and do your part in keeping legal claims away from your business.