Businesses are often targets of lawsuits for all sorts of reasons. An hkm workplace attorney has many years of experience dealing with a wide range of lawsuits on behalf of employees and against their employer.
Here are the 4 of the most common workplace lawsuits:
1. Employment Discrimination and Wrongful Termination
Businesses often face lawsuits due to allegations of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or wrongful termination.
An Employer cannot discriminate against workers based on:
- National origin
- Being a woman who is pregnant or suffering from a related condition.
- Not paying men and women the same wages if they perform equal work in the same workplace.
- Employees aged 40 or older based on their age.
Employers need to understand some specific terminology if they wish to avoid lawsuits.
Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Often the plaintiff complains about a manager or co-worker, but the employer fails to do enough to make the harassment stop.
Retaliation means the firing, demotion, harassment, or similar act committed by an employer to punish an employee who has filed a discrimination complaint or lawsuit. An employer cannot fire an employee because they have filed a discrimination complaint.
Wrongful termination means firing an employee in violation of the law. Often these are based on allegations of discrimination if they are aged over 40. It’s important to give a clearly understood reason for the dismissal to avoid a claim like this.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable because they do not have their own HR department and don’t have documented processes in place.
2. Discrimination Suits Not Based on Employment
Discrimination lawsuits don’t come just from employees. They can also come from:
- Vendors, and
- Other individuals who have a connection to the business.
For example, a customer might sue a restaurant for discrimination based on their national origin because of derogatory remarks overheard about their native country made by staff.
3. Wage Law Violations
Not fully understanding wage law is another reason for workplace lawsuits.
Often the cause is the inability of the employer to pay the minimum wage or to pay for overtime.
Workers often claim they have been classified as independent contractors and do not get minimum wage, holiday pay, and sick pay, when they are actually working as fulltime employees.
Suits based solely on allegations of wage and hour law violations may not be covered by insurance. They are not covered by general liability policies either and are specifically excluded under many directors’ and officers’ liability policies.
4. Breach of Contract
A business owner breaches a contract when he or she fails to comply with its terms.
If a business has a contract with someone to do some specific work and never completes the contracted work, they are lining themselves up for a lawsuit, for breach of contract.
It should be noted that apart from wage law violations, business owners can protect themselves from the financial impact of many lawsuits by taking our appropriate insurance protection. If they face little financial impact, there is little motivation for businesses to improve their practices to avoid further claims.