Most employers believe they treat their employees with all due respect and care, prioritizing their safety and comfort during their labor. These beliefs are true for most business operations, but no one is perfect, including business owners.
When policies fail to protect employees, employees will often turn to litigation for a solution. Employers who anticipate the most common employee lawsuits can implement policies to solve the problem before it becomes a legal issue.
5 common reasons for employee litigation
Every year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) publishes an overview of the previous year’s national employment discrimination charges. The EEOC reports that 2019 discrimination charges dipped to a record low at just above 72,000 charges, fully 3,700 fewer charges than 2018. National discrimination trends have continued downward since their peak in 2011, with nearly 100,000 charges nationwide.
The five most common types of litigation employees bring against their employers are:
- Retaliation and wrongful termination: Retaliation charges make up over 50% of all employee litigation, increasing 2.2% in 2019. Most employee charges include retaliation on top of other accusations, like race or sex discrimination.
- Personal injury: Workers file nearly three million workers’ compensation claims every year, but only about 5% of claims go to trial.
- Harassment: Harassment suits are commonly associated with members of a protected class, like people of color or those with disabilities, but can include instances of bullying and abuse. Employers can curb workplace harassment with targeted education and an up-to-date handbook that promotes empathy, listening and professionalism.
- Wage law violations: These suits focus on issues with overtime, minimum wage, paychecks, and worker classification. The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) dictates wage law and sets the minimum wage.
- Discrimination: Discrimination suits stem from unfair treatment of employees based on their belonging to a protected class. Federally protected classes include age, gender, national origin, race, color, disability, veteran status, religion, citizenship, and even genetic information.
Business owners protect their interests with legal help
Business owners facing tricky workplace lawsuits find more success working with a local attorney familiar with New Jersey employment law. A lawyer can work with insurance adjusters, assess company policy and draft settlement paperwork.