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Fraud, Employers, Employees, Trial Litigation, Americans
With Disabilities Act, FMLA

  Carmel Business Leader


Ignoring Problems is Worse than Dealing with them Promptly
John Walls, Legal Affairs Columnist

I try to focus on helping employers avoid litigation. Litigation is a terrible way to resolve your problems: It is expensive and rarely a “win – win” resolution. Here are five common ways to avoid trial litigation with employees.

1. Don’t lie. Don’t even stretch the truth. Employees can bring fraud, promissory estoppels and misrepresentation claims. It may be tempting to sugarcoat the reality of a job when you really want to land a key recruit. Don’t do it.

2. Don’t sit quietly. Most lawsuits result from hurt feelings and poor communication between managers and employees. As uncomfortable and tedious as it may seem, managers must explain to employees if they are not meeting their expectations and document it. This will protect the employer and is also fair to the employee.

3. Don’t play games with the government. I often come across those who have made compensation "arrangements' with employees. They believe that since the employee agrees to the arrangement, they are protected from the law. Overtime laws and the rules qualifying someone as an independent contractor versus an employee are complex. In most cases, litigating with the government is worse than litigating against an employee.

4. Don’t ignore problems. This issue costs employers more money than any other issue I know. If someone complains about mistreatment, harassment or unfair treatment, you must deal with it. Even if you believe it is groundless, take it seriously, investigate it, take appropriate action, and document it. Just as important: don’t retaliate in any way against the employee who complained.

5. Don’t mismanage employee absences. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA,) the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA,) and Worker’s Compensation are sometimes called the Bermuda Triangle of employee protections. Educate and protect yourself about these items: poor awareness can result in very expensive problems.

Originally printed in Carmel Business Leader, September 2007 | 1/3. A Times-Leader Publication, in partnership with Current Publishing, LLC.

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