A recent study by liability insurer Hiscox finds that U.S.-based small and medium sized businesses face an almost 12 percent chance (and rising) that they’ll be hit with an employment claim in 2016.
What’s even more frustrating, in many cases employees are working with employment attorneys who provide legal assistance on a contingency fee basis.
What does that mean? It means employees can bring cases while incurring little or no expense.
The costs for employers? Hiscox estimates that one in five employers will face charges with an average cost to defend of $125,000. They also found that the median judgment for cases that go to trial is $200,000 while one in four resulted in a judgment of $500,000 or more.
So why the rise in cases?
Legal experts in employer defense believe there are many causes including:
- Changing economic conditions that have led to heightened employee/employer tensions – and an increase in retaliatory claims
- Increased awareness of what constitutes harassment in the workplace
- Immigration issues
- Issues tied to same sex couples and transgender employees
- Changes in state laws and regulations – including wage laws
- New and reinterpreted federal laws and regulations (e.g., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is currently engaged in aggressive enforcement against all forms of workplace harassment, etc.)
What can you as an employer do to protect yourself against this rising tide of law suits? Here are some tips:
- Make sure you understand federally protected worker categories, rights and activities recognized by federal law and regulations including: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, The Family and Medical Leave Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.
- Make sure you understand Connecticut laws with regard to employment, including discrimination and wage laws.
- Make sure your hiring, firing, and workplace rules match the laws of the land and are communicated clearly to your employees. Annual audits of your employee handbook are recommended.
Managing employees is a challenge for every employer – and mistakes can be very costly. If you’re an employer and are concerned your business may have employment issues to address or simply need someone to perform an audit for you, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing, and one thing alone – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are the largest employer defense law firm in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys have over 20 years of experience in employment and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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