The HR Trail - How to Prevent Lawsuits
Written by: Amber Trail, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
There are some things in life you can do yourself, but let’s be honest here, you can’t (and shouldn’t) pretend to enjoy human resources. To some people, the HR department brings either good news or bad. But in reality, they do so much more like keeping you and your employees protected by being up-to-date with the latest work/employee laws - hello compliance! - and they are the kings and/or queens of documentation.
Imagine a world without a trained, educated and experienced HR professional to do the hiring/firing of employees, to keep your business in check when it comes to rules and regulations, and someone who will conduct employee and management training. Scary, right? And maybe that’s something that you take for granted, or just don’t really think twice about.
As you might have noticed, the title of this article makes the bold statement that human resources make the business world go round. Of course, there is a multitude of other factors that contribute to the biz world a-spinning, however, from an HR perspective, who else is going to be there when crap hits the fan and you’ve got a lawsuit on your hands? Or if you’re in desperate need of workers, who is going to find the perfect talent?
What if you decide one day that you need to let a problem employee go? And you do. Then a few weeks later, you get served with a lawsuit. Why? Because this employee is claiming that you discriminated against them. Why? Well, they didn’t appreciate the way you fired them, but they claimed (for official purposes) that you didn’t like them because they were a female. Now, can you prove that you didn’t discriminate against them? Chances are, no, you can’t.
If you would have approached your HR professional about the matter in terminating the employment of this particular employee here is what they should respond with. How many written warnings have they received? Have you tried a performance improvement plan with this employee? How many discussions have you had with them about this matter? Where is your documentation? You get the idea.
"Avoid mistakes that can cause lawsuits."
Side note: We are big supporters of employee performance reviews and have constructive discussions with an employee before the decision to let them go. This really gives everyone involved an open and one-on-one discussion that could either go great or not-so-great. You don’t technically know that until you try. And then at least you can say you tried!
Sounds daunting, right? Well, it can be, unless you have someone on your side who can help set up processes and procedures to cover most instances that could happen in the workplace. Depending on your employee size, you may not even need a full-time or even part-time HR professional. But, having someone who can help navigate through laws and compliance with you on a consulting basis can be crucial. Avoid mistakes that can cause lawsuits. You work hard for your money, why waste it on a lawsuit that could have been prevented?
With that being said, as Human Resources consultants, we like to get Honestly Real (see what we did there) not only with employees but with employers. You want your business to keep going efficiently and effectively? Consider the importance of your HR department or an HR consultant and how they work hard to keep your company going. Trust us when we say that we aren’t just the bearer of bad news, we are professionals trying to do what’s best for you and your business!
Amber Trail. Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Amber Trail, MBA, SHRM-CP is the founder and consultant for her human resources consulting company, The HR Trail, LLC. With over a decade of HR experience and a master’s degree in Business Administration, Amber brings her passion and knowledge of human resources to small businesses nationwide. She realized that not all businesses need nor can they afford a full-time HR professional, and that's why she decided to create The HR Trail. To provide a variety of human resource consulting services such as recruitment, coaching, company handbook development, event planning, and more. Her motto is creativity + passion = purpose and she thrives on successfully helping small businesses accomplish their human resources needs!