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How Businesses Can Protect Themselves Against Employment Lawsuits

Few things are more terrifying for companies than the prospect of being sued, let alone for an employment law case. These can range anywhere from harassment, molestation and discrimination to illegal hiring practices to poor labour conditions.

On the one hand, it is good that employees have more rights than before, that marginalized groups are making their voices heard, and that old and ongoing injustice are getting the redress they deserve. On the other hand, you naturally do not want your company to be on the receiving end of one of these suits, with all of the legal, financial, and public relations ramifications that could bring. These four tips (along with the help of employment lawyers trained in the field) can help you avoid accidentally stumbling into an employment law crisis.

1. Review Your Company’s Policies

If you have not had a look at your company’s policies in a while, you may want to do so. Employment law is changing all the time, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement and other social forces forcing change. What was considered “acceptable” in the workplace 20, 30 years ago may no longer be the case, and if your company policies do not reflect that, you could be in trouble.

That is because policies are more than mere lines on paper, but the way your employees are expected to act. If your code is not up to modern codes of conduct, your employees could be under the impression that certain behaviours are “fine” when they are not.

2. Review How Your Company Hires

You will also want to have a look at how your company hires people. A lot of energy has been expended over the past few decades in reshaping companies’ hiring policies at both the corporate and provincial level to make sure that they are as equitable and non-discriminatory as possible.

For example, it should be understood that you should not hire, fire, or exclude someone based on their race, gender, orientation, political affiliation, or religious beliefs. Doing any of these can land you in the middle of a huge employment law case.

Just as importantly, you cannot ask potential candidates leading or personal questions that may reveal information that could in turn be used for discrimination. For example, you cannot ask questions to try to “determine” if an interviewee is LGBT or of a certain religious faith, nor can you ask if a woman is pregnant or plans to have kids.

What's more, you cannot get around these rules by having a hiring team from an organization outside your own ask these questions for you – your company will still be held responsible for the illegal questioning.

3. Consider Having an Audit Performed

If you think that your company may have antiquated policies that need to go, or are simply concerned about the way people are being treated, you may want to consider having an audit done. This can be performed by an employment law expert, who can review your company’s policies and determine if you have any problem points that need changing.

Make no mistake – change is inevitable. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is thinking that they do not have to change. Just as that can lead to a lack of innovation and economic stagnation on the business side of things, it can also lead to a poor work climate developing right under your nose.

Again – just because you think that things have “been fine” for decades at your company does not mean it has been that way for everyone, or that it could not stand to improve.

An audit by an employment law expert can help ensure that you are getting qualified advice as to specifically where and how your company needs to change.

4. Seek Help From Employment Law Experts

When in doubt, it is always a good idea to speak to employment lawyers about your situation. It is their job to specialize in this kind of policy, after all, and they will know the latest laws, which have been passed which may affect your company’s standing.

What’s more, they can both conduct audits themselves as well as help go over the results of one with you.

Finally, if things do arrive at the point where you need to defend your company against a lawsuit, an employment lawyer can help you through the entire process. They will speak with you, the relevant parties in your company, and the hurt party and their legal team to try to arrive at the best legal solution possible.

However, it is of course best if you can keep things from getting that far in the first place. That means taking basic precautions, updating your policies in common sense ways, and doing whatever is necessary to make sure your company is up to date with a 21st century way of doing business and treating others.