November 16, 2017
Tips to Limit Your Employer Liability Risk
Organizations have an ethical and legal responsibility to treat their employees in a professional manner. In recent months, there has been a number of allegations citing improper workplace behavior. While harassment is a very prominent topic in the media, it is not the only type of employment practices liability accusation. Other types of allegations include discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation. Employee rights should be taken seriously. Follow these steps to decrease your risk of employee lawsuits.
- Create clear policies and procedures. First and foremost, create corporate policies and procedures that comply with current federal, state, and local laws. Put these in an employee handbook and use it to guide the hiring, disciplining, and terminating of employees. It should include items such as: hiring process, promotion and evaluation criteria, at-will employment statement, anti-harassment policy, and who to contact if an incident was to occur. Since this important document forms the backbone of company guidelines, it is advisable to review it with an attorney.
- Provide diversity and sensitivity training. Cultivate a culture of inclusivity and sensitivity where prejudicial conduct will not be tolerated. Employers should organize regular training to make certain that managers understand their duty to stop, address, and prevent harassment and other inappropriate behavior. Just as important, employees should know that they will not be reprimanded for asking questions or sharing concerns. Everyone should be educated on ethical and legal workplace practices.
- Detail job descriptions and evaluate objectively. Write job descriptions that detail skills and performance expectations of each position. Make sure the qualifications and requirements are directly related to the job. These will pave the way for objective evaluation and reduce the risk of discrimination. Candidates and employees should be assessed with a consistent and standardized approach that is based on the measurement of success suitable for their position. These evaluations should be conducted periodically, and reviews should be carefully noted and kept in their personnel file.
- Document everything. Documentation provides written proof in case of an allegation and will be valuable in your defense. Keep a log of all job performance issues including absence, tardiness, warning, and failure to improve. Incorporate dates, times, and other details when applicable. Additionally, document all disciplinary issues, employee complaints, investigations, and resolution if any.
- Behave professionally. You spend a lot of time at work with your colleagues, and sometimes the line between professional and personal may blur. Take care to uphold an appropriate environment for the workplace.
In addition to taking these precautionary steps, you should also consider getting Employment Practices Liability Insurance. It can protect you in cases of lawsuits brought on by potential, current, and former employees. Learn more about this and other business insurance at Avalon's website.