8 Common Mistakes Employers Make And How To Avoid Litigation

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Employees sue their employers every day, and it is one of the risks that employers take on when hiring a person. Employers should, of course, do everything they can to avoid these kind of lawsuits. There are eight common mistakes employers make that can trigger litigation. Knowing about these mistakes will make it easier to avoid litigation.

Failing to track employee hours worked

Many companies use an honor system when it comes to tracking how many hours an employee works. This trust can backfire. An employee can claim he or she was not paid for overtime or not paid for hours worked. Tracking employee hours worked can avoid this kind of litigation.

Sending out letters of recommendation for anyone terminated due to performance problems

Recommendation letters can become pieces of evidence in a discrimination lawsuit. The best approach is to not send letters of for any former employee. The only information that should be shared is confirmation of dates of employment, position and title.

Not protecting information on an employee’s termination

Once an employee is terminated, there is no need to have further discussion about the reason for termination or situation. This kind of information can be used in litigation. Also, HR and management should not talk about the employee’s termination with anyone who does not have a need to know.

Sending emails that say too much

Emails that reference an employee or that person’s termination can be used as evidence in litigation. An odd email comment could end up coming back to haunt the employer. All electronic communications should be as professional as other forms of employer/employee communication.

Not doing an effective investigation when a discrimination or harassment claim is brought forward

Every claim should be considered seriously. The employer should preserve all related evidence, interview any witnesses, reach a conclusion, and share all results with the interested parties. How the investigation is conducted is often more important than its findings.

Failing to have a clear, written policy and complaint procedure

One of the best defenses an employer has against litigation is a clear, written anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure. The employer can bring forward evidence that the employee failed to use the policy and did not file a complaint.

Not providing an honest employee evaluation

Many employers are uncomfortable giving negative reviews to employees, so they give all employees at least a “meets expectations” review. This type of evaluation can come back to hurt an employer during litigation if an employee is terminated for poor performance. If an employee is not performing to expectations, this must be clearly documented.

Failing to document employee performance issues or misconduct

Every issue should be documented at the time it happens. This kind of documentation is quite effective when fighting an employee’s claim of termination for age, disability or gender.

Don’t let a common mistake cost your company a lawsuit judgment. If you are in need of litigation assistance with any employment-related matter, call on the legal counsel at Brown & Fortunato for more information. Give us a call at (806) 345-6300 or Contact Us via email to learn more about our services and practice areas. We welcome you to visit our office at 905 S. Fillmore St., Suite 400, in Amarillo, Texas.

This information is subject to change. Please check for updates that are more recent than the published date of this article.