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5 Ways to Stay Out of the Courtroom

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When it comes to business, there are so many things that owners need to do, the last thing they need is a lawsuit related to employment matters that can be easily avoided.

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Here are five tips to avoid employment lawsuits:

1. Document, Document, Document.

The golden rule of human resources starts with documenting policies and procedures, documenting what the company’s expectations are of the person in the role, and then documenting both recognition as well as disciplinary/coaching actions. When things aren’t documented, they don’t exist.

2. Address Conflicts and Investigate Complaints.

Nobody likes conflict or confrontations, but they can’t be ignored in the workplace as they tend to lead to bigger issues for the company and the employees involved. Follow up with employees after investigating a complaint or concern and let them know the outcome.

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3. Be Consistent.

Follow and enforce company policies equally for all employees. Holding one employee to a policy and not another opens the door for a variety of claims including allegations of discrimination, even when not intended by the employer. Consistency is key.

4. Pay Attention to Pay Practices.

Be sure that employees are classified correctly as exempt or non-exempt, as well as either employees or independent contractors as outlined within the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour regulations. Pay overtime for non-exempt employees, be aware of any applicable break/rest period regulations and pay attention to employees working after hours because technology allows them access.

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5. Train Managers.

Typically it is a manager at the center of an employment lawsuit, so it is important to train them thoroughly on company policies and practices, teach them on how to handle employment situations, and provide them with the resources they need to be effective in their roles as managers. Be sure to hold managers to the same standards as everyone else as they typically set the “tone” for the workplace.

– Deanna Arnold, PHR, is president and owner of Employers Advantage LLC

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