How to Avoid an Employee Lawsuit

Throughout history, there have been celebrated leaders such as Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, and then there are bosses like Darth Vader who would’ve had the Death Star sued. While it’s true that absolute power corrupts absolutely, quality leadership is measured by how well a company trains its managers to lead employees. It’s easy to lose sight of ethics and mistreat employees when you are responsible for so much, but if you know how to avoid the mistakes most often made by managers, hopefully it can help you to be a better leader.

Avoid employee lawsuit

Play Fair

If you have some bias for or against a group of people, you must not base your managerial employment decisions on race, sex, origin, religion, age, disability, genetic information or any other class protected by law. Making managerial decisions based on biases for or against any of these preferences could result in a major lawsuit. Any biases you have toward a certain group of people are best practiced outside of your position as a manager.

In 2009, the captain of a tugboat in Tennessee filed a lawsuit against Sevenson Environmental because the vessel that he was given to perform his duties was unseaworthy. In 2011, the suit was settled in the plaintiff’s favor, and according to a spokesperson, Sevenson is currently training its contractors and employees to practice safety onsite and at clean-up sites.

Document Everything

Whether you are a fair manager or the kind of boss to give the office quite a scare, it’s important to record everything. If you or the employee are at fault in a situation, or the outcome is less than satisfactory, is of little concern. Documentation of participants, details and outcome that is exact and precise are important to record and preserve in case the situation should need to be mentioned in the court of law. If a situation is recorded inaccurately, the manager in charge could be held liable.

Stick to the Deal

If your company is opposed to forcing or even allowing employees to work over-time, and you find that it’s necessary to change that policy, it’s important to go through the proper channels to have the employees contract match what is required of them documented in print. Breaking employee contracts or tacking on demands that were not originally discussed or agreed upon can become risky and is grounds for a lawsuit.

A lawsuit brought against a California Costco in 2009 by it’s employees claimed that the managers of the Costco were forcing employees to work overtime that they were not compensated for. Costco was found guilty in observation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In many cases, the key to being a good manager is also the key to being a fair one: Be a team player, delegate and don’t take matters into your own hands. The decisions you make as a manager are sometimes difficult, but if you have your company and employee’s best interest in mind rather than just your own, you will likely make the right choice.

Dee Sanchez A former financial advisor for politicians, Dee now enjoys offering readers the advice she gave to senators and congressmen. She hopes to be as popular as Suze Orman one day.

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