Managers' Mistakes That Spark Lawsuits: Part 2
This is the second of a two-part series dealing with mistakes which managers and supervisors sometimes make that end up costing their employer. Simple mistakes and perceived slights resulting in discontent may end up being resolved in a court of law. Here are some additional errors and omissions that will harm an employer's credibility in court:
"Papering" an Employee's File
Most managers hear the mantra, "document, document, document." However, it is possible to over document, especially when it occurs right before a firing. Courts will be able to see through a rush of disciplinary actions cited in the days before a discharge. Be consistent in documenting positive and negative performance and behavior of employees.
Being Rude or Mean-Spirited
An employer may have the best case in the world, but if the key supervisor comes across as rude, insensitive and mean, the attorney's job of selling the employer's case to a jury will be much more difficult. Use the golden rule when handling issues with employees.
Careless Statements to the Feds
When responding to charges filed with the EEOC or state agencies, employers often have to submit position statements. Managers may be called upon to help provide some of that information. You can bet that the employee's attorney will review these statements, particularly affidavits, and introduce them at trial, especially if your story has changed. Keep your story consistent.
Lack of Legal Knowledge
Juries will expect � and the employee's lawyer will encourage them to expect � that employers stay abreast of developments in employment law. Refresh yourself regularly on your organization's policies, read communications from HR, and when in doubt, ask questions.
Firing Employees Too Fast
Managers who fire without first trying to improve the worker's performance will appear insensitive and potentially discriminatory in court. On the other hand, managers who try to improve things before resorting to discharge will normally stand a better chance of avoiding a lawsuit.
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