As a business owner, you are always at risk of a legal dispute, even from your own personnel. Here are the Five Florida Business Litigation Tips for Preventing Employee Lawsuits.
Don't Run Afoul of the FLSA
Employees can sue you for failing to abide by federal labor law, namely the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This federal statute is responsible for establishing various rules and standards of employment, such as a minimum national wage and guaranteed overtime pay for certain jobs. With only a few exceptions, most employees are "nonexempt" from the FLSA, meaning they must receive overtime pay from their employers. The comparatively few workers that are exempt from this requirement must meet specific criteria, such as being paid at least $23,600 annually, being paid on a salary basis, and performing "exempt job duties" (ranging from certain management / supervisory positions, to professions such as dentistry and law). With the help of an expert in Florida Business Litigation and employment law, you can ensure that your business is compliant with all relevant labor laws that impact your employees.
Never Allow Employees to Work Off the Clock
No matter how willing they may seem, never allow an hourly employee to work beyond their formally recorded hours: they must be paid for every minute they work, clocked in or not. Otherwise you can be held liable, even if you told them not to overwork. Stay on top of the work schedule and make sure no one is working outside the time allotted to them unless they are made to go home or clock in first.
Discriminatory Practices Are a Leading Cause of Florida Business Litigation
Claims of discrimination are among the most common causes of employee lawsuits. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission actively enforces several federal laws that make it illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants and employees on the basis of race, national origin, gender, age, disability, religion, and pregnancy status. Florida also has its own anti-discrimination law, which covers these areas in addition to marital status, AIDS/HIV, and sickle cell anemia. Given the seriousness with which such legal claims are handled, it is critical to promote a culture of fairness and openness in your business, beginning with a formal company policy that codifies your commitment to nondiscrimination. Also make sure your human resources staff avoids inappropriate interview questions (such as about age and national background), and that managers and supervisors are not treating staff under them poorly based on the discriminatory criteria mentioned above.
Avoid Unnecessary Rules That Open You Up For Florida Business Litigation
The more rules you have, the more likely someone, somehow will violate them. Company policies and rules should be limited to what is important to the smooth functioning of the business. Attempting to enforce a superfluous dress code that may preempt religious (and legally protected) clothing is just one notable example. Stick to what matters most so as to avoid any potential dispute or disagreement with an employee or applicant that may lead to a lawsuit.
Compensate Employees Based on What the Job Requires - Period
It may seem perfectly reasonable to base an employee's salary on their work experience, prior pay, or existing friendship. But even this seemingly innocuous (and still legal) approach can leave you open to a lawsuit. If the people you are paying more happen to be of the same race or gender as you, yet different from the employees making less, it can look like discrimination - and that alone is enough to trigger a lawsuit. If two people are working the same job, their salaries should be similar and should only diverge on the basis of documented performance (such as reaching a certain sales quota). Allow market demand, and nothing else, to determine pay.
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Sticking to these rules and principles will go a long way towards preventing and minimizing the likelihood of employee lawsuits. Nevertheless, even if you do everything right, there is always a chance that someone in your business will be disgruntled or find some reason or another to take you to court. That’s why it pays to have Florida Business Litigation experts like Jurado & Farshchian by your side.
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