If you take pride in your business and the positive environment you have created for your workers, you may feel shocked and confused when an employee files a lawsuit against you for unfair treatment. Nearly half of all small businesses face the emotional and financial struggles of a lawsuit at some point, not to mention the tremendous drain on resources a legal battle typically brings to a company.
Despite your best efforts, you can’t please every employee, and chances are good that you will deal with a worker who believes your actions or the actions you permit are a violation of their rights. You would be wise to be prepared to defend yourself and your business by knowing the most effective steps to take if you are faced with the threat of legal action. Your reaction to an employee’s lawsuit can affect the well-being, reputation and future success of your Pennsylvania business.
Minimizing the threat you are facing
When an employee threatens to sue you or your company, take it seriously. If the employee files a lawsuit, assume the matter will go to court. This way, you will know to prepare for every contingency and have a strategy in place for protecting your interests. It is possible you can settle the matter quickly if you believe it will benefit the business, and the employee’s demand letter should explain the corrective measures he or she expects. These measures will depend on the issue at stake, which may include:
- Allegations of harassment or hostile work environment
- Accusations of discriminatory actions against the employee
- Supposed violations of wage or overtime laws
- Claims of wrongful discharge, such as after positive performance reviews or in retaliation for other lawful actions
- Potential violations of immigration employment laws
- Allegations of negligence that resulted in the employee suffering injuries
- Accusations that you denied the employee’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act
To minimize the impact a lawsuit may have on your business and on you personally, you will want to gain information on your legal options for successfully defending your business against the kind of issue you are facing. Avoiding direct contact with the employee may prevent you from inadvertently providing evidence the employee could use against you. An employee lawsuit can be upsetting, but your emotions will not keep your business running and may even complicate matters.