Posted by : Amanda Stein Wednesday, October 10, 2012
When it comes to owning and operating your own business, the last things you want to think about are lawsuits. Unfortunately, no business is exempt from potentially being slammed with a lawsuit. The good news, though, is that you can protect yourself by being proactive. By doing simple things like providing a handbook for new employees and ensuring their health and safety through weekly meetings you can either avoid most lawsuits or challenge them successfully. Here are five things that you, as a business owner, should do to protect yourself.
1 - Conduct a background check – When hiring a new employee it’s important to conduct a background check to ensure that the applicant is being completely truthful. If, say, someone forgot to mention that they were investigated for fraud at their last job, that’s something you want to know. A background check will catch it.
2 - Keep the employee handbook updated – Things like employee benefits and wage rates may change overtime and it’s important that the employee handbook reflects these updates. One of the strongest legal protections you can have is documents in writing that clearly state the objectives of the job and the role of the company.
3 - Document everything – If there is even the slightest question in your mind about whether or not to document something, do it. In the event of legal action these documents will protect you from frivolous, or trumped up claims.
4 - Understand wage and labor laws – You should have at least a basic understanding of wage and labor laws including the current minimum wage rate, terms of overtime, and benefits (medical, dental, 401k). This keeps you safe from potential lawsuits and keeps the employee safe from overwork.
Consult an attorney when necessary – Employment law can be tricky. There are many different facets to understand and if at any time you become confused about something, contact an attorney. Don’t wait until something as serious as a sexual harassment lawsuit is filed before you hire a professional. Be proactive and protect yourself and your business.
Hiring a qualified attorney that specializes in employment law is the safest bet against lawsuits. While they work tirelessly to protect your rights as a business owner you can concentrate on the thing that got you into the business in the first place.
This article was written by Roger Brent Hatcher, an attorney at Smith, Gilliam, Williams & Miles, a leading Atlanta Law Firm since 1928. Smith, Gilliam, William & Miles specializes in everything from family law to taxation law.