”…these suits catch employers by surprise since, even if they terminate an employee for a business reason, every separated employee can claim discrimination on the basis of a protected class such as race, gender or sexual orientation…”
Employers who can afford it purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to protect their businesses.
In the last three to four years, HR lawsuits have been on the rise, and unfortunately, there does not seem to be any end in sight. The U.S. Department of Labor reports the number of lawsuits related to the Fair Labor Standards Act, alone, increased 35 percent in three years. And this is only one small area that an employer can be sued. The following steps can be taken to minimize lawsuits:
- Your employee handbook must contain broad and multi-tiered complaint procedures so employees have sufficient recourse when they feel victimized by harassing or discriminating behavior.
- Provide annual employment law training to all of your supervisors and require them to sign acknowledgments.
- Educate your employees at the time of hire – during orientation, for instance – about the avenues open to them should they have a problem and need to complain.
- Most critically, take prompt remedial action when someone complains. In other words, do something about it within 48 hours or less of receiving the complaint. It is best to seek legal advice when such a complaint occurs.