7 Reasons Employees Sue Their Employers

July 13, 2008

Q: Why Do Employees Sue Their Employers?

A: Nothing would twist your britches into a bunch faster than having the Sheriff stop by to serve you with a lawsuit from a former employee. It immediately becomes a gut wrenching rationalization of why this event should not have taken place. There is a simple cost effective way to protect and/or prepare YOU the company and YOU the employee and I will discuss one such option at the end of this correspondence. But first let’s look at Seven Possible Reasons Employees Sue;

1. No reason given for termination; You’re an at-will employer, so you can fire at will, right? Wrong. Most employees think they’re wonderful employees, and if they get fired for a mysterious reason, they’ll make up their own reason - or their lawyer will. The reason for termination needs to be clear, succinct and legally valid.

2. Termination of an employee for bad performance, when the employee has good performance reviews; This is the big brother to “no reason given for termination.” Supervisors need to understand that they’ll need a poor-performance documentation trail if they want to fire someone. Any competent judge or jury will see the through this one.

3. Coincidental or deficient timing; (a) An employee files an internal complaint about the employer or a supervisor, and then (b) shortly after is disciplined for a supposedly unrelated event. It won’t be hard for a lawyer to connect the dots in court between (a) and (b). Employees who file complaints can be disciplined, but the supervisor better have the documentation in order before making the move.

4. Failure to respond or investigate in a timely manner; When employees file complaints, they want them thoroughly investigated and they want it done now. If an investigation is filed, communication becomes the first defense. Acknowledge the event, set a timely schedule for investigation, and keep the complainant fully informed. Communicate now or explain it in court months or years later to a relentless attorney who will want to know why you didn’t care enough about your employee to act or react in a professional and confidential manner. The jury will be all ears on this one!

5. Viewing an EEOC charge lightly; If you’re contacted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding an employee complaint, respond promptly and courteously - and treat the complaining employee courteously, too. If you’re reluctant or procrastinate in your response or treat the employee like a leper, expect to hear about it in court and from a heavy handed authority at that.

6. Failing to follow your own policies; You can have the best policies and training in the world - and indeed some companies have used that as a defense against a complaint. But you better be able to demonstrate through UNCOMPROMISABLE documentation that your supervisors followed those policies and applied the training and documented the results with no room for error.

7. Lack of respect of their loyalty. You’ve got an employee that is first in, last out, always willing to be part of a team, has successfully achieved all challenges you have put forth. But after being rode hard and put away wet, they are dismissed and replaced with another and usually for less money, less experience and many times less years on the face of the earth. I guarantee that this one will get you in front of a non-compassionate judge and jury.

How to lose a lawsuit

Getting sued is bad enough, but after a lawsuit is filed, employers and employees can make the situation worse:
A. Being unprepared for depositions
B. An inability to locate key documents
C. Responding “I don’t remember” to questions about key events will sink you every time
D. All of that makes good record-keeping even more important

One outstanding solution; Employers don’t want to be sued, and for that matter employers really don’t want dissension in the work place. Employees want an environment that is safe for them. And I’m not just talking about safe from machinery but safe from mental abuse and other psychological or political games that can be played in the work place.

Employees want to know the rules and employers want the rules followed. In the paragraph above the two giant culprits are “unprepared” and “locate documents.” Both of these have caused both employees and employers to lose lawsuits that otherwise would have gone in their favor.

There is one online, web based software program that keeps ALL parties “in check” in the arenas of EEOC, OSHA, ADA, ADEA, Harassment, Environmental Health and Safety, Training, Workmen’s Compensation, Required Manuals, Benefits, AND most importantly, “PROOF OF COMPLIANCE” of the employer and the employee. There is not any one other online service that does it ALL and at cost of pennies a day than, www.HrServeOnline.com .

I would encourage you to visit the site, and pass it on to your owners and managers. You can read this comprehensive and educational website, in its entirety, in five minutes or less. And if you are owners and managers, request a 30 minute demo. It will be the best 30 minute demo you view this year! With over 500 companies with about 50,000+ employees nationwide on the system, this should speak volumes to you.

Accordingly to the Bar Association, attorney’s costs in 2006, for an employee generated lawsuit or EEOC claim have a median average of $160,000.00 ++. The preemptive or proactive solution for all parties is now before you.

There are all kinds of ways disgruntled employees can anonymously attack their current or former employers via the Internet. One such site is www.Glassdoor.com and there are many others that are not so gentle. Why put yourselves into that arena?

As always, I thank you for your readership and please accept my wish for a tremendous week. If I can help in anyway, please call or write and I will respond immediately!


George F. Mancuso, CPC

George F. Mancuso CPC, President
Gman Business Resources, Inc.
409 16th Avenue, Grinnell, IA 50112 -1065
Phone: 641.236.7910 Ext. 101~ Fax: 641.236.7912