While it may be true that today’s society is too easily offended, it is also true that many workers must fight for their right to fair treatment in the workplace. As an employer, you may do your best to protect those rights, but you still operate your Ohio business under the real possibility that an unhappy employee will file a lawsuit against you. In fact, about 10% of small business owners deal with lawsuits, and at least 43% of small businesses face the stress of litigation or threats of litigation.
A lawsuit requires your time, attention, money and resources. It is certain to divert your employees from the mission of the company and even damage staff morale. Litigation can devastate your business as well as take its toll on you personally. However, with smart planning, you may be able to avoid such losses and minimize the damage without opening yourself to additional legal hassles.
What should I do?
Disgruntled employees may first make their complaints known to you by sending a demand letter. The letter itself may not lead to a lawsuit and may simply ask you to take action to correct issues that have offended the employee or violated the employee’s rights. You should take this letter seriously and send it to a skilled attorney who will determine if it is something you should be concerned about. Your lawyer should offer some sound advice about the most appropriate steps to take next, including the following:
- Avoid communicating with the plaintiff since your words and actions may come back to you in court. Instead, allow your attorney to handle all contact with the employee.
- Respond to the complaint through your lawyer before the deadline in the letter.
- Review your business insurance policy to make sure you are covered against lawsuits. You may wish to contact your insurance provider for clarification.
- Don’t let your emotions cause you to lose focus on the success of your business.
You will likely feel angry and frustrated, especially if you believe the employee’s complaint has no merit. However, it is better to remain calm and follow the advice of your attorney. Now may also be a good time to review your employee handbook, consider some training for your managers and employees, and implement an employee-friendly procedure for handling worker complaints. A skilled attorney can not only handle the current litigation but can also assist you in developing practical policies to avoid future issues.