While it may be impossible to completely prevent lawsuits, there are steps you can take to mitigate the chances of employee litigation. It is in your best interest to have an attorney help you with each of these steps to ensure they are completed efficiently and effectively.
1. Obtain a clear understanding of employment laws. There are a wide range of complicated employment standards. It is important to have an attorney help you understand and follow New York State Labor Laws and federal employment laws. Understanding these laws is an important first step to mitigating litigation.
2. Create policies and expectations. Create anti-harassment and anti-discrimination company policies. You should also include an equal employment opportunity policy. These policies will clearly state that your business will not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind.
3. Write a comprehensive employee handbook. An employee handbook may be the last item on your list of important things to do, but it should be completed. A comprehensive employee handbook will lay the foundation for the standards and expectations of your company. It should contain policies regarding discrimination and harassment. It should also outline the steps that employees can take if they are victims of discrimination or harassment.
4. Construct detailed agreements. Create detailed contracts such as severance, employment and noncompete agreements. General agreements can open you up to potential liability. An attorney can help you create and review sound agreements.
5. Create and follow through with employee training. It is important to ensure that rules are not only mentioned, but followed. You can use employee training to make sure that employees understand company policies. Training should include steps to take if an employee has witnessed or been victim to harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
6. Keep detailed written records of employee performance. Record employee performance and disciplinary issues. Employees must also recognize in written form that they have received notice of the issues. Wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits can be expensive and damaging. Recording employee performance can provide proof for valid termination, protecting your business against unwarranted lawsuits.
7. Follow your own guidelines. As obvious as it seems, you must strictly follow your own policies. Discourage and document incidents of sexual harassment. Hire or terminate employees based on their qualifications. Not only does this behavior reduce lawsuits, but it protects your employees and keeps them happy.