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Avoid business litigation by not breaking these employment laws

The risk of your business facing litigation is very high, so it is smart to do everything under your control to avoid a lawsuit and the ruin of your company's reputation and finances. One of the areas you can focus on is your interactions with employees, as they are a significant cause of litigation.

Reduce the chances of landing in the courtroom by avoiding noncompliance with the following employment laws.

Discrimination and harassment

You may not think you would ever discriminate against someone due to race, gender, ability, religion and so on. However, even subtle, unintentional discrimination is illegal. For example, you cannot ask an interviewee when he graduated from high school (age discrimination), if she plans on having children soon (sex discrimination) or how long his or her family has lived in the U.S. (racial discrimination). Harassment can go beyond words; even offensive office decor can qualify.

Misclassification of employees

A common source of business litigation is misclassifying your employees. One way you may do this is by labeling a worker as exempt, meaning not subject to meal breaks and overtime, in order to avoid figuring out shifts and schedules that address these issues. Another way is by hiring a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee to prevent having to provide benefits. Ask an attorney for help if you are unsure how to classify the people you hire.

Wrongful termination or retaliation

Did you fire an employee after the person filed a workers' compensation claim, reported harassment in the workplace or took a leave of absence for whatever reason? Does the employee continue to work for you but the workplace become more difficult or hostile for the person due to their actions? If so, you may be guilty of wrongful termination or retaliation and be subject to a lawsuit. Whenever you face grounds for termination or discipline, consult with your attorney first to ensure you handle the matter legally.

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