Employment lawsuits are an unfortunate reality for employers in today’s world. Some common mistakes may actually ensure that your risk in litigation increases! Here are five common mistakes that help your employees bring suit against you:
I. Undocumented employee misconduct or performance problems
An employee’s misconduct and performance issues should always be documented. Proper documentation goes a long way toward avoiding a former employee’s claim that he or she was wrongfully terminated based on a protected class such as age, race, disability or gender.
II. Inaccurate Employee Evaluations
An employee’s evaluation should accurately reflect the person’s job performance. Having an inaccurate, grade inflated employee evaluation can have unintended consequences down the road. Inaccurate employee evaluations always come back to be a problem for the employer.
III. Failure to have Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure
One of the best defenses to a harassment claim is that an employer has a well-documented anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure, and that the employee failed to avail himself or herself of the policy. These policies are critical to a successful defense.
IV. Failure to Conduct Effective Investigations
In the event an employee lodges a workplace harassment complaint, it is imperative that the employer conduct an effective investigation by preserving evidence (including e-mails), interviewing the appropriate witnesses, reaching a conclusion, sharing the results of the investigation with the parties involved. The investigation’s findings and conclusions should be well documented.
V. Email Messages: Think Before You Send
It is commonplace for people to communicate via e-mail in the workplace. One of the pitfalls, however, is that people may say things electronically that they may not say in a face-to-face conversation. As a result, employers should be careful when communicating with employees and should have a written policy regarding the proper use of electronic communications.