Ten Tips to Help Company Leaders Prevent Lawsuits

  1. Remember: You’re in charge. Don’t ignore acts of misconduct by an employee because you’re afraid of a lawsuit. Be proactive. Maintain control of the situation by practicing effective management techniques – such as the following tips.
  2. Focus on objective, job-related criteria in all your management decisions. Be aware of your own stereotypes and biases and work to overcome any influence they may have on your decisions. Accept diversity.
  3. Be fair and consistent. Hold all employees to the same standards of conduct and performance. An employee who feels he or she has been treated fairly and given a chance to be heard is much less likely to challenge your management decisions. Never add insult to injury.
  4. Tell the employee what is expected, what needs to improve, and, in cases of unsatisfactory performance, what the consequences will be if the employee fails to fix the problem.
  5. Make a written record of important events, disciplinary actions, and workplace complaints. Make it clear and accurate with sufficient detail. Sign and date it. Documenting events ensures that you have taken all prudent steps prior to a “final” employment action. (It also provides critical proof should that action be later challenged.)
  6. Treat employees with respect, and demand that those you supervise treat their co-workers with respect. People who feel respected, often are not triggered to sue an organization.  Praise your team in public, have teambuilding events, make respect part of what employees are rated on for performance reviews.  Teach them how to resolve problems and conflicts in respectful ways.
  7. Make sure you and your employees know and understand the company’s policies. Follow them.
  8. Do not engage in or allow retaliation.
  9. Be approachable. Tell employees you are available to hear their concerns.  Regularly seek out employees to ask if they have concerns.  Make time for employees when they want to meet with you – and turn off your cell phone and email when they sit down with you for the meeting.  When a concern is reported to you, it gives the company a chance to address it and likely heads off an outside claim/lawsuit.
  10. Ask for help when you need it.