As Halloween approaches, business owners will have plenty of spooky things to worry about: ghosts, goblins, witches and other frightening things. In addition to these familiar spooky characters, business owners also have to worry about complaints from employees. If you run a business, the chances are reasonably high that you will face a claim made by an employee at some point in time. This is true even if you work extra hard to be a reasonable owner and implement reasonable company policies. Some things are simply beyond your control. Many things, however, are in fact under your control, and our focus in this piece will be the methods you can take to minimize employee claims.
Types of Claims You May Face
As an employer, there is a veritable avalanche of possible claims which can be made by employees against your business. Your employees can make a claim of unpaid overtime in violation of the FLSA. An employee with a disability can make a claim that you failed to provide reasonable accommodation in violation of the ADA. If you don’t prevent harassment of employees, you run the risk of facing a claim of a hostile work environment. Simply put, there is a whole range of possible claims which can be made against your business by employees. These are just a few examples, but there are many others.
Method #1: Institute & Enforce Anti-Harassment Policies
This is an especially important method when we consider all the problems caused by COVID-19 in the form of harassment against Americans of Asian descent. You need to develop and enforce anti-harassment policies, both for the sake of morality and as a legal protection against your business. Any type of workplace harassment is both morally repugnant and a potential liability for you as a business owner. Suppose you find out that a manager has been communicating inappropriately with a worker, sending harassing text messages and phone calls; further suppose that this was occurring in the workplace, and during work hours. As a business owner, this can potentially lead to a claim against you as the employer.
Method #2: Develop Sound Hiring & Termination Policies
Another method you will want to implement is creating sound hiring and termination policies. If you fail to create fair hiring policies, you can face claims from potential employees rather than actual employees. This can be the case, for instance, if you pass over a candidate with a disability because you’re unwilling to provide reasonable accommodation. You can also face claims for discriminatory hiring practices. Of course, we know that our readers are committed to equal opportunity employment practices as a matter of principle; but the fact remains that, unless you implement clear and effective policies, you allow a greater possibility for these types of claims.
The same is true when it comes to termination policies. Florida is an at-will state, which means that employers don’t need to show cause to terminate an employee. However, employees still cannot be terminated for discriminatory reasons, or for other “protected” reasons, such as those provided by the ADA.
Method #3: Create a Safe Work Environment
This method goes double when we consider the current state of affairs involving COVID-19 and the so-called “Delta variant.” Simply put, as an employer, you have a duty to provide a safe work environment for your employees. This means that failure to implement certain safety policies can potentially leave you open to liability for certain types of safety related claims. As we’ve discussed previously on our blog, this may also apply to COVID-19. You want to make sure that you observe all applicable precautionary measures pertaining to COVID-19, and also do what you need to do in order to promote a safe working environment as a general rule.
Contact the Trembly Law Firm for More Information
There is plenty more to say on this important topic, but hopefully this information serves as a useful starting point for our readers. If you’d like to learn more, contact the Trembly Law Firm today by calling (305) 431-5678.
Trembly Law Firm
9700 South Dixie Hwy Penthouse 1100
Miami, Florida 33156