Workplaces are and have always been the places of tension where poor practices and interpersonal problems quickly escalate into full-scale lawsuits. There are simply too many different personalities, too many stressful circumstances, and too many conflicting interests for us to expect everything will eventually fall in line.
The good news is that, for the most part, we as a society constantly strive to eliminate those inconsistencies, find the middle ground the business owners and workers can agree upon, and make workplaces more humane for all.
Let us, then, take a look at the current state of this development and break down some of the most frequent legal issues we continue to find in the workplaces. This way, we can hope to reach a better understanding of the problems behind them, and look for functional solutions.
Generally speaking, the issue of equal rights is pretty well covered by the set of laws issued in 1964 and currently enforced by EEOC. At this very moment, job candidates and existing employees are legally protected from discrimination based on:
- Race and/or ethnicity
- National origin
Unfortunately, the fact that these issues are regulated by law, doesn’t mean they are not still one of the most prevalent problems we continue to see at the workplaces. The solution to the problem may be found in awareness campaigns, strict enforcement of prohibition, and unwavering determination to point out to transgressions.
The right to feel safe is one of the most basic worker rights and the right that has been probably the longest fought for. And much like the laws regarding discrimination, we can observe that, at the current state, legislation regarding workplace safety covers a wide variety of perils ranging from exposure to dangerous materials to cuts, trips, and falls. So we can, once again, conclude that the reason for a persisting number of correlated lawsuits lies in the poor implementation of safety standards and inadequate warnings.
Although they are not directly associated with the workplaces, the lawsuits regarding the defective products can cause serious consequences across the company and permanently damage work conditions. To put this topic into perspective, every product has an implied warranty under which the said product is expected to work as advertised. If a sufficient number of customers experience the same problem that deviates from the warranty terms, they can file a lawsuit against the company. The resulting financial repercussions can result in layoffs and drop in safety standards.
According to law, businesses are obliged to provide their employees with at least a minimum wage, pay them fairly for overtime hours, and ensure they are in a position to receive compensation when they are prevented from working due to illness or work-related injury. Unfortunately, all these rights, especially the latter two, are frequently disputed by employers. Until the regulations in these fields become more unambiguous and better enforced, the workers will need to continue to resort to attorneys experienced in personal injury cases like Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert, PA.
Layoffs are an unfortunate reality of the business world. The circumstances under which employees are fired can lead to lawsuits. The legislation in this field is probably the least defined out of all the topics we are going to cover. Namely, employees can file a lawsuit against the company if they feel they are wrongfully terminated for reasons like being too old, complaining about safety issues, or whistleblowing. All these examples are highly opened to interpretation, so it is the business owners’ job to get to know federal and state laws before making termination decisions.
Harassment lawsuits can be a result of two things – poor interpersonal relationships at the workplace or stick measures enforced by senior staff. In both these cases, they can draw a lot of media attention and permanently impact the company’s reputation. This outcome is often far more damaging than the court settlement. One of the easiest ways to avoid these costly disputes is to strictly prohibit all kinds of behaviors that may have sexual, racist or any other offensive implications. Also, companies should put more effort into the integration of the staff through various workshops and team building events.
Hiring perspective talents as interns is a long-lasting practice that, if implemented well, can prove to be equally beneficial to all involved parties. The interns get the opportunity to acquire necessary experience, do some minor work for the company, and eventually come into position to become full-time employees. By hiring interns, the companies get access to affordable labor. The problem arises when businesses hire the interns to replace full-time workers but deny them all the benefits that come with the status. If the interns ever feel their work obligations are extending their employment status, they are legally allowed to persecute the employer.
Transgressions against privacy
Images displaying the premises and behind-the-scenes doings within the companies have always been a valuable marketing material. What most of the employers are unaware of, though, is that they are not allowed to use their employees’ names, photos, and voice recordings in marketing campaigns without written approval. Speaking in strictly legal terms, this practice could be classified as using the personal identity for commercial gain. Also, the businesses are allowed to intercept any kind of wire, oral, or electronic communication occurring at the workplace, only if the employees have been previously notified.
The various social platforms have become an irreplaceable part of modern communication. And although the posted content is often behind various privacy walls, it is not spared of scrutiny. For instance, if a company discovers that some of its current or former employees are posting the content that can reveal the company’s vital secrets or damage the reputation, the said company has a legal basis for filing a lawsuit. Although the laws regulating this field are still largely opened to interpretation, there are, by now, more than enough legal precedents that speak in favor of the aggrieved party.
We hope these nine examples gave you an insight at some of the recurring problems present at the modern workplaces. Understanding them should be imperative, whether you approaching the issue from the standpoint of an employee or a business owner. Even more so if we take into consideration that a large portion of associated court cases is the result of misinformation rather than ill intent.
Once we know how to approach these problems, we will all feel more comfortable to resolve them through good practices and agreements that are far less exhausting and damaging for all involved parties than court cases.