Bad news: You’re going to be sued–Good news: Be fair and you’ll win

It’s a fact of life: As an HR professional, you and your employer will be sued. You can’t tell which applicant, employee or former employee will litigate, but you can be prepared.

Insulate yourself and your company by reviewing all decisions for fairness.

For example, something as seemingly minor as failing to provide small incentive-based benefits can mean a long and expensive lawsuit.

Recent case: Customer service representative Bryan Shine sued his former employer, TD Bank, for a long list of alleged wrongs, many based on perceived discrimination. Shine is a Roman Catholic, a member of the Republican Party with conservative beliefs and a white male of Irish and Polish descent. He also suffers from bipolar disorder.

The bank managed to get most of Shine’s mammoth suit dismissed. However, the court said several claims should move forward.

For example, Shine claimed that while working for the bank, he was denied lending authority and 100 shares of stock, benefits a company policy says employees are eligible for after completing 20 loan applications. He claimed other customer service representatives of “African-American descent” who handled fewer applications were given the shares and authority.

The court said that if true, the allegation might mean race discrimination. The bank will now have to show it didn’t treat black customer service representatives more favorably than it treated Shine. (Shine v. TD Bank, No. 094377, DC NJ, 2010)