Lawsuit-proof your company: 20 tips from HR peers

January 6, 2011
in Employment Law

In a recent survey, The HR Specialist asked readers whether they’ve been sued by employees and, if so, what single piece of advice would they give to other HR professionals to help them avoid (or respond to) an employee lawsuit. Here are some of their suggestions:

1. Document! Document! Document! (listed by many respondents)

2. Remain completely non-emotional and trust your counsel.

3. Treat all employees the same.

4. Follow all directions from your attorney, and always keep detailed records.

5. Stay proactive. If you see a problem, don’t hope it will go away. Address it immediately.

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6. Communicate with employees throughout the process in a respectful manner.

7. Hire better.

8. Know the laws. If you aren’t sure, find out. One of our employees went to the Labor Department. We were audited and found to be liable because the company was unaware of the aspects of FLSA (I had just started working here).

9. Keep current on training and employment law. Read articles.

10. Train managers/supervisors on relevant laws (state and federal). Stay engaged in the daily operations of the business and people. Visibility is most valued by employees.

11. Adhere to your policies and be fair with all employees. Train your managers.

12. Be honest, be polite to the investigator and submit all materials within deadlines given.

13. Know the employment laws—federal and state—and make sure your managers know them, too.

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14. Document every conversation related to medical issues. You never know which one will become a problem a year from now.

15. Take heed to reports of sexual harassment and workplace bullying. Make your organization a learning place.

16. Find a good lawyer that specializes in employment law.

17. Keep your policies current, your practices consistent and maintain detailed records.

18. Understand you cannot prevent all lawsuits. Just be fair, truthful and always follow your own policies.

19. Maintain constant and open communication with your management staff. Train them in HR best practices and basic labor laws. Train them to be “coaches.”

20. Document all “odd” conversations. An employee once asked me if his disability would cause him to be fired. I told him his job performance was the determining factor. He later sued under ADA, saying that I had told him that his disability would “probably get him fired.” Because I had documented timely (emailing to myself), we were able to show he lied about the conversation. (It later came out that he had a history of suing employers under ADA.)

HR Memos to Managers contains 81 concise training handouts covering nine key areas your supervisors must be familiar with:
book cover
  • Employment law (basic training)
  • Employee lawsuit risks
  • Hiring and interviewing
  • Performance reviews
  • Communication
  • Coaching and motivating
  • Management skills
  • Managing difficult situations
  • Terminations
This HR handbook – specially designed for supervisors – is an instant company training program. You can customize the handouts for your business, easily remove them from the HR Memos to Managers binder and distribute them to your managers.

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