avoid employee lawsuit headache hr human resources compliance

Avoid Potential Lawsuits

Call an HR Professional

Have you ever wondered why we encourage you to call an HR Professional before every termination? Simple. 85 percent of all employment lawsuits can be prevented just by making one simple call. Sounds too good to be true, right? This story illustrates how one call to our HR Professionals helps to avoid potential lawsuits and prevent future conflict. 

Employee Acts Insubordinate and Disregards Employer’s Directive

EZ Delivery has a franchisor directive requiring all delivery drivers to install magnetic signs on the roof of their cars when making deliveries, but Steven hadn’t been complying with the requirement. When confronted, he initially said he didn’t want to install the sign because his car was new. However, he later complained to his manager, Ruby, that the sign was unsafe and flew off his car while he was driving. 

Ruby didn’t believe Steven’s story because the franchisor had tested the magnetic strength of the signs prior to issuing their directive. Based on their information, she instructed Steven to use the sign or face disciplinary action. 

Later in the day, Ruby learned Steven did not follow her directive and had been making deliveries without the sign on his car. She immediately suspended him pending the outcome of her investigation and contacted an HR Professional to discuss terminating him for insubordination. 

The Call that Changed Everything

 It’s a good thing Ruby made the call because the HR Professional told her although it looked like Steven was being insubordinate, he had made a complaint about workplace safety (i.e  Steven was engaging in protected activity), and she was unable to support the termination due to this “red flag.” Instead, Ruby was advised to investigate Steven’s workplace safety complaint.

As it turns out, the signs weren’t safe. During her investigation, Ruby learned the magnetic signs were only guaranteed to stay installed at a maximum speed of 50 MPH. While this wasn’t a problem on city streets, Ruby’s location required freeway driving more than 50 MPH.

An Accident in the Making

 Ruby was horrified to learn the signs posed a risk for her employees and the general public. By investigating, she was able to prevent potential accidents by replacing the signs with window decals.

A Lesson and a Reminder

EZ Delivery learned a valuable lesson. Every employee complaint must be taken seriously and investigated because there’s no telling what an investigation will uncover.

Ruby was ready to disregard Steven’s safety complaint because his reasons for refusing to use the rooftop sign had changed. She was even preparing to fire him. Had she done so, Steven could have raised a whistleblower claim against the company.

Thankfully, she remembered to contact an HR Professional, who identified the risk of a potential claim and advised her to investigate the complaint before taking any action. Not only was a potential whistleblower claim prevented, but the investigation also prevented a future claim involving any damage that could occur if one of the signs flew off a vehicle and help avoid potential lawsuits.

Call Innovative’s HR Professionals today!

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