Some lawsuits can’t be avoided. Others, though, simply require a bit of work to stop in their tracks. If you are a business owner, it’s a good idea to take certain preparations to avoid lawsuits. Below are a few tips that should help to keep you out of court when possible.
Follow the Rules
The rules apply to your business, just as they apply to everyone else. If you think you see a shortcut that no one else is taking, try to figure out why they aren’t doing so. When it comes to local ordinances and federal rules, make sure you follow them precisely. The last thing you want to do is to find yourself on the wrong side of a suit from the city, the state, or from the IRS. While following the rules and regulations might stop you from making a profit, doing so will also help you to avoid serious financial penalties.
Know Your Vulnerabilities
Stop and look at your potential liabilities every time you make a change in your business. Before you fire an employee, find out if you are leaving yourself vulnerable to a lawsuit. Before you expand, make sure your business is in compliance with all the local codes. Every move should be followed by some sort of basic legal analysis. While this might slow down your ability to make changes on the fly, it will also help to prevent you from overlooking important flaws in your plans.
Pay attention to everything that happens on your premises and that is related to your business. Be aware of how your employees are representing your company, how the physical grounds of your properties look, and with whom you are working. Some lawsuits occur long after they were preventable simply because the business owner was too busy worrying about things that didn’t matter. The more time you are willing to spend observing your business, the more you will be able to catch. Don’t get sued because you overlooked something that was truly important.
Follow Your Own Policies
One of the most common reasons that employee sue employers is because they don’t follow their own policies. If you have rules for your employees, follow them – even if you have a personal issue with one of the employees. If you have a disciplinary process, make sure that it is either followed to the letter or that it provides some sort of alternate path in the case of extraordinary circumstances. While following your own labor policies won’t make you immune from a lawsuit, it takes a great deal of the wind out of an employee’s sails when he or she attempts to sue you for wrongful termination or for discriminatory practices.
Educate Your Employees
Smart workers make better decisions. If you can provide your employees with continuing education and training, you can help them to avoid the problems that might lead to a lawsuit. This can include training on workplace conflict, the use of certain equipment, and even on discrimination laws. The more your employees know, the better they’ll be able to represent your business. Continual training can also help to reduce your liability in the case of some workplace accidents, so the cost of training can truly pay off in the long run. Don’t let the avoidance of this expense cost you money in the future.
Don’t Ignore Problems
“A surprising number of lawsuits come from incidents that could have prevented if someone would have been more attentive,” said lawyer Robert Hamparyan. If you know that there are potential problems at your workplace, take care of them sooner rather than later. This includes everything from repairs that might need to be done in the future to the relationships between your employees. While it might be unpleasant or even expensive to deal with problems before they become real issues, doing so can help you to avoid being sued.
Sometimes, it just takes a bit of extra work to avoid potential lawsuits. Pay attention, follow all the rules, and take care of problems as soon as they present themselves. While not all lawsuits can be avoided, you can protect yourself against those that are preventable. The extra work is more than worth the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing that you won’t be taken to court.