A recent employee lawsuit that was brought to our attention (not our client) has shown that even when a company doesn’t necessarily do anything “wrong”, an employee can file a workplace claim and cause untold hassle, expense and pain. In this case the employee was never reprimanded, never filed any complaints with the employer and was still employed at the time of the claim. The perfect employee/employer relationship… or so it appeared. iStock_000000299500Small
This employee, apparently not happy with work conditions, management or employer/employee communication, or perhaps just not content with his own life, decided to hire an attorney, and file a claim of harassment as well as multiple discrimination claims against this business. Every claim was FALSE and the attorney that took on the employee’s case was apparently not concerned. Unscrupulous Attorneys are far too often willing to take a case on a contingency basis, despite having strong evidence to the merits of the case.
Now that the case had been filed, this company had to defend itself on every single claim. This employee and his attorney caused the company to engage its own attorney to defend the claims at a cost of over $50,000. The claim was eventually thrown out, the employee received nothing but the company was out time and money due to one employee’s willingness to file a claim.
These types of fraudulent cases are all too common in the employment arena. Sometimes the employee wins, sometimes not. The attorney’s always win however. Every business is vulnerable and the bigger the company, the bigger the perceived “pocket”.
So now that you know how vulnerable your company may be against fraudulent claims, you may be asking what you can do to protect yourself. Here a few things that you can put into place right now:
Check employment references – You may not receive a lot of information from the past employer, but there are times when just a little hint may indicate that this employee can be a bad one.
Require background checks on all new employees – Many potential employees have skeletons in their closet that may alert you to their character and ethics.
Document everything – New hire documentation, Job Descriptions, written compensation plans, job procedures, employee pay and status changes, everything. You can’t be too cautious or meticulous.
Ensure two-way communication – Make sure you have policies in place that allow your employees to voice their concerns to you. When employees have concerns, be assured, they are voicing them somewhere, better if they can come to you first.
Manage and document performance – Set standards and expectations. Every 6 months, perform an evaluation on each employee and document everything. Be honest and thorough.
Be involved – it is easy for management to get involved with running the company and be blind to the little nuances of the work environment. Be observant, be aware, be a part of the team environment.
Again, we all hope that an employee would never to this to us, but these things do happen out there in the real world. For more information on ways to protect your company, please contact Champion Employer Services.
- 8 Aug, 2014
- Tom Elias
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