Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash


Not to offend the legal community nor to impugn lawyers, but it’s easy to lose when you’re forced to go to court over employee issues, if you’re not diligent. It seems the only people to usually profit are the lawyers.

Companies often fail to be diligent in communication with employees. Poor communication mires employers in legal headaches and issues with employees.

Typically, businesses make eight errors in communication.

How to legally prevail:

1. Paper trail, paper trail and paper trail.

Judges and juries are very sympathetic to employees, especially in retaliation claims. So be extra diligent in documenting performance issues.


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Your documentation must be continually updated and easy-to-understand. In other words, accurate note-taking is paramount so you’re not accused of gross negligence.

2. Implement a PIP

You usually must be able to show you’ve implemented a careful personal improvement plan personal improvement plan. Try to get employees to sign acknowledgement of each document. If they refuse, be sure to note it.

3. Execute policies with preventative measures

Get authoritative legal advice and adequately communicate policies that should include standards of conduct, FMLA, workplace violence, and workplace harassment.

4. Job applications

Your application forms should adequate address at-will employment and your rights in checking references.

5. Employee handbook

Keep your employee handbook updated with best employee-handbook values to avoid legal issues. Include a mini-statute of limitations regarding employee claims against your business.

6. Performance reviews

Your reviews of employee performance reviews should be accurate and timely.


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If you’ve mistakenly given recent excellent comments in reviews, you’ll invite legal trouble.  Employee lawyers will always allege you acted in a discriminatory and illegal fashion.

So use metrics and objective criteria regarding employees’ performance.

7. Terminations

Adequately explain to employees why they’re being terminated. Be courageous in explaining your decision. Don’t waffle to soften the news to a worker.


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8. Avoid appearance of employee favoritism

Few things make employees more angry than facing favoritism in the workplace.

Be careful in how you treat employees. In all personnel matters, clarity and consistency are vital.

From the Coach’s Corner, see these related employment strategies:

16 Best Practices to Stay out of Legal Trouble with Employees — Generally, in human resources, companies find themselves in legal hot water because they inadvertently make mistakes with their employees. It’s important to triple down on preventative measures and responses to legal hazards when necessary. Here are Biz Coach tips.

Strategies for Better Job Descriptions to Attract Talent — To successfully compete against other employers for the best talent, many companies have found it necessary to update their job descriptions. Here’s how they do it.

Management – Dos and Don’ts for Sending Rejection Letters — In our harried and litigious world, it’s tempting not to send rejection emails or letters to applicants. But it’s bad form to appear rude and unprofessional. Here are the dos and don’ts.

HR: Avoid Bias in Evaluating Top Employees Who Backslide — Don’t be too lenient with talented employees with a history of strong performance but who decline in their work. Document every event in any downtrend of performance. Inevitably, many terminated employees will file claims accusing you of discrimination.

Before You Fire Employees, Ask Yourself 3 Important Questions — Keep in mind that if you’re forced to terminate workers, there are normally three questions to ask yourself.

“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”

-Sydney J. Harris


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.