Why employees sue (hint: it’s not about the money)

Mobbing at work

Just as doctors without good bedside manners are more likely to get sued, so are employers. In his article “The Top 5 Reasons Why Employees Sue Their Boss,” Plaintiff Employment Lawyer Branigan Robertson reveals that mistreatment — not money — is the number one motivator for employees suing their employers. It’s mounting evidence that not caring about employees as human beings costs employers.

Here are the top five reasons why employees sue their employers according to Robertson:

1.  They feel they were treated like garbage.

To have dignity, people need to believe they’re more than a disposable company resource. “Fired employees don’t call employment lawyers like me because the law was broken. Regular folks have no clue whether the law was broken. They call me because they feel dehumanized,” explains Robertson. “This is by far the No. 1 reason people get on Google and search for a lawyer. They are emotionally upset about how their boss treated, demoted, or fired them.”

Solution: Employers should treat their employees with respect if they want to avoid a lawsuit. Pretty simple.

2. They were fired after engaging in protected activity.

Robertson gets several calls a week that go something like this. Him – “Why did you get fired?” Employee – “They didn’t give me a reason, but I complained the week before about sexual harassment.” Robertson says that employment lawyers call this problem temporal proximity. In other words, “the time between the protected activity and adverse employment action are so close together that timing alone can be an inference of discrimination. This becomes an especially big red flag when the employee was never written-up or reprimanded before she complained.”

Solution: Employers should promptly write-up underperforming employees.

3. Their manager was allowed to behave badly.

How many rogue managers does it take to infect an otherwise good company? Just one. Sexual harassment, wrongful termination, failure to pay for overtime: pick your poison. “In my experience, nine times out of 10, these rogue managers have been on the company’s radar before and the company failed to adequately supervise, reprimand, or fire them,” says Robertson. Juries don’t like it when they hear a company knew about the rogue behavior but did nothing, he adds.

Solution: Employers should supervise and reprimand managers for inappropriate behavior.

4. Owner greed is out of control.

“When an owner of a company drives a Ferrari and simultaneously tells a valued employee that the company ‘can’t afford’ to give her a raise from $8 an hour to $8.15 an hour, she is going to call a lawyer if she gets fired,” explains Robertson.

Solution: Employers should stop over-indulging and hogging the money at the expense of giving their employees fair and livable wages. It’s called being a decent human being.

5. Rules aren’t fairly enforced.

“When one employee is allowed to break the rules because he’s friends with the HR guy or favored for another reason, but another is disciplined for breaking the same rules, the reprimanded person almost always thinks the law is being broken,” says Robertson.

Solution: Employers should enforce rules fairly.

 

“If companies simply treat their employees with respect, enforce the rules fairly, fire rogue managers, and use some common sense, people are far less likely to pick up the phone and call an employment lawyer like me,” explains Robertson. In a nutshell, Robertson’s asking employers to do their jobs and treat employees like human beings if they want to stay in business.

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