Top Ten Reasons Employees Sue Their Employer


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Every potential job applicant, employee who enters your workplace, and every former employee who leaves it, represents a potential plaintiff in a lawsuit against your company. This is increasingly true in these difficult economic times. An employee may believe he or she has been discriminated against, harassed, or subjected to retaliation. The employee may just be looking for money - or payback. If your company finds itself in a lawsuit tomorrow, will it be ready to defend its business decisions? In this seminar, Mr. Ussery will discuss the most common factors that motivate employees to sue their employers. More importantly, he will discuss the steps your company can take to defend against liability, if not avoid the lawsuit all together.

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Top Ten Reasons Employees Sue Their Employer

  1. 1. THE TOP TEN REASONS FOR EMPLOYMENT RELATED LAWSUITS<br />Brian C. Ussery, Esquire<br />Thompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez & Hearing, P.A.<br />201 North Franklin Street<br />Suite 1600<br />Tampa, Florida 33602<br />(813) 273-0050<br />
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION<br /> A disgruntled applicant, employee, or former employee can bring a lawsuit against your company at any time. A vigilant employer can avoid many of these suits, and effectively defend those that are filed, if it understands the factors that drive an employee to the courthouse and proactively reduces the bases for liability.<br />
  3. 3. Reason 1 – An applicant believes he or she should have been hired.<br />
  4. 4. A vigilant employer will . . .<br />Establish objective qualifications for available positions (job descriptions, job postings, etc.)<br />Establish a consistent application/interview process<br />Update or remove advertisements and postings once position has been filled<br />Establish “expiration dates” for applications/resumes<br />TRAIN YOUR INTERVIEWERS!!!!<br />
  5. 5. Reason 2 –An employee believes he or she was unfairly disciplined. <br />
  6. 6. A vigilant employer will . . .<br />Publish expectations for employee conduct<br />Establish a process for progressive discipline<br />Adopt a process to ensure consistent application of discipline<br />Establish means for documentation and notice to the employee<br />Train your supervisors!!!!<br />
  7. 7. Reason 3 –An employee believes he or she was harassed.<br />
  8. 8. A vigilant employer will . . .<br />Consider the “Rule of Mom”<br />Adopt a policy forbidding harassment and discrimination of any kind<br />Establish a mechanism for employees to report suspected harassment<br />Act promptly to respond to complaints – NEVER IGNORE THEM OR UNDERESTIMATE THEM – the goal is to end the inappropriate conduct<br />Train your supervisors!!!!<br />
  9. 9. Reason 4 – An employee believes he or she was subjected to discrimination.<br />
  10. 10. A vigilant employer will . . .<br />Understand the protected classes (Sex/Gender; Race; Color; National Origin; Religion; Age; Disability)<br />Consider “other” protected classes (sexual orientation; military status; union affiliation; bankruptcy; immigration status; workers’ compensation, FMLA leave, etc.)<br />Understand the concepts of “intentional discrimination” versus “unintentional discrimination”<br />Demand consistency in the enforcement of expectations and policies<br />Train your supervisors!!!!<br />
  11. 11. Reason 5 – An employee believes he or she was subjected to retaliation.<br />
  12. 12. A vigilant employer will . . .<br />Understand the dangers of a retaliation claim<br />Understand the concepts of “statutorily protected activity” and “whistleblowing” <br />Exercise due diligence<br /> - legitimate reason for adverse action?<br /> - can we prove legitimate reason?<br /> - can we prove others treated same way? <br />Train your supervisors!!!!<br />
  13. 13. Reason 6 – An employee believes he or she was not provided accommodation for disability.<br />
  14. 14. A vigilant employer will . . .<br />Understand the definition of “disability”<br />Not seek to identify disabled applicants/employees<br />Establish procedures for an employee to request accommodation<br />Communicate following a request<br />Understand the interaction between workers’ compensation, FMLA, ADA.<br />Train your supervisors!!!!<br />
  15. 15. Reason 7 – An employee believes he or she was terminated due to illness or injury.<br />
  16. 16. A vigilant employer will . . .<br />Establish and publish sick time/leave policies<br />Identify its obligations under FMLA, if any<br />Identify its employees’ rights under FMLA, if any<br />Refrain from interfering with those rights, or from retaliating against an employee who exercises his or her rights<br />Train your supervisors!!!!<br />
  17. 17. Reason 8 –A former employee believes he or she was defamed following the separation of employment.<br />
  18. 18. A vigilant employer will . . . <br />Establish procedures for responding to job reference requests.<br />Consider providing only factual information concerning dates of employment, position held, salary/hourly rate, etc.<br />Keep confidential information confidential (social security numbers, drug test results, etc.)<br />Train your supervisors!!!!<br />
  19. 19. Reason 9 – A union is attempting to organize the workplace.<br />
  20. 20. A vigilant employer will . . . <br />Understand the dangers involved in unionization<br />Recognize that it has more freedoms than restrictions in combating unionization (T.I.P.S)<br />Be proactive in educating employees <br />Be proactive in alleviating the pressure points a union may use to sell or justify unionization to the employees, and communicating with employees about issues that cannot be addressed due to business/financial concerns<br />Train Supervisors to be the eyes and ears of the company<br />
  21. 21. Reason 10 – A competitor believes the company has interfered with its business or stolen its employees.<br />
  22. 22. A vigilant employer will . . . <br />Identify whether applicants/employees have prior employment agreements prohibiting competitive employment<br />Consider the benefits of using those agreements with its own employees<br />
  23. 23. If you don’t learn anything else, always remember . . .<br />Every applicant, employee, and former employee represents a potential lawsuit against your company.<br />Consistency is the key to avoiding liability<br />Published and effective policies are the key to maintaining consistency<br />Documentation is key to proving consistency<br />Your company = your supervisors. Educate them. Demand vigilance, loyalty, and accountability from them.<br />
  24. 24. Brian C. Ussery, EsquireThompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez & Hearing, P.A.201 North Franklin Street, Suite 1600Tampa, Florida 33602(813) 273-0050 (phone)(813) 273-0072 (fax)<br />