The axiom that anyone can sue for anything is true. While nonsense lawsuits get dismissed relatively quickly, they can still cost time and money.
One of the best ways to stop meritless lawsuits dead in their tracks is to offer compelling evidence that you are a fair and equitable employer. If you can assure the court that you base your decisions on clear rules that are fairly enforced, you’ll win.
Recent case: Vernon claimed that on two separate occasions he was denied the opportunity to work overtime on account of his race. Vernon is black.
In court, his employer said it tracked all overtime opportunities and had a strict process for assigning the work. The terms were all neutral in terms of race, gender and other protected characteristics. It tracked all overtime worked year-to-date and then offered extra hours according to a list that included job classification and previous overtime hours.
On both days that Vernon claimed he was denied overtime opportunities, the employer showed he was too far down on the list to earn a spot on the schedule. His race had nothing to do with it. The case was quickly tossed out. (Guion v. Mabus, No. 4:11-CV-159, ED NC, 2012)
Final note: As the economy continues to struggle, lawsuits are piling up. While you can’t stop employees from suing, you can be ready when they do. Accept lawsuits as inevitable—and review your internal processes to ensure fairness for all.
- How should we handle pay when employee works unauthorized overtime?
- Thinking of stiffing illegal immigrant workers? Better be ready to defend huge class-action suit
- Can we require overtime work?
- Who is an exempt professional under the FLSA?
- Federal appeals court rules on OT for city firefighters assigned to state duty