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Make a stupid mistake? You may be sued for whatever trouble it causes

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in Human Resources

In this day and age of ceaseless litigation, it should come as no surprise that many of the mistakes you make will land you in court. That’s even true for something as simple as neglecting to deduct child support from an employee’s paycheck.

Recent case: Troy Crockett worked for Securitas Security Services when he was sued for paternity. Tests confirmed he had fathered a child, and a court ordered him to pay child support.

Crockett asked his employer to pay the first month’s support from his paycheck, pending a court garnishment order. But Securitas neglected to make the payment, and so did Crockett.

He was then arrested for failure to pay and was suspended from work. When the criminal charges were dropped several months later, he was reinstated, but at a lower pay rate. He sued, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The court tossed out the case, reasoning that forgetting to send the child support money wasn’t an outrageous mistake — one of the legal requirements for an intentional infliction of emotional distress case (see box below). But the employer could have saved time and expense by handling Crockett’s simple request. (Crockett v. Securitas Security Services, No. 1:06-CV-2277, ND GA, 2007)

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