Unfortunately, for many companies throughout the United States, the question is not if they will experience an employment lawsuit, but when. In recent years the number of employment-related lawsuits has skyrocketed as more employees are taking their employers to court for discrimination, wrongful termination, and a variety of other claims. In order to protect businesses from costly and time-consuming lawsuits, Zarwin Baum hopes to share their lawsuit prevention tips for new and established east-coast employers. Below are some of Zarwin Baum’s lawsuit prevention strategies frequently share with their Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware-based clients.
Establish Clear Policies and Fair Business Practices
Before starting a new business, employers must first establish clear policies for future employees. These policies must fully cover an array of topics, including disciplining employees, lay-off procedures, employee termination, hiring, raise structure, promotions, and all issues regarding employee retention. Policies should be included in an official employee handbook that new employees must view before being officially hired. Employees must be required to review these policies and sign a statement that they have read and understand the employee handbook and its policies.
Do Not Discriminate
One of the most common reasons employees pursue legal action against their employers is when they have faced discrimination. Employers are encouraged to review federal laws regarding discrimination, which have outlined several different actions that can be described as discriminatory. American court systems recognize four main types of workplace discrimination, direct discrimation, indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimization. Employee protected characteristics include ethnicity, color, religion, race, disability, age, sex, genetic information, and pregnancy status. Depending on the state, additional laws may protect other areas of discrimination, including weight, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Use Human Resources Appropriately
While human resources departments typically are used to help protect an employer, employers should ensure that the department takes steps to ensure employees feel heard and represented during workplace conflicts. Human resource departments serve as insurance that work relationships remain both civil and functional. In order to prevent biases and future employee lawsuits, employers must ensure that human resources departments are a safe space for employees to lodge complaints, report unethical behavior, and move past workplace conflict. A successful human resource department will satisfy employee concerns and help mitigate conflicts not only between co-workers but employees and their employers.