Reduce the Chances of a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit By Following These Tips

wrongful termination, Wheaton business law attorneyIf you are a business owner, you are probably an extremely busy person. The last thing you need is to deal with an employee suing you for alleged wrongful termination. Not only are wrongful termination lawsuits stressful and time consuming, they can also be extremely expensive. The average amount received by terminated employees in a wrongful termination or employment discrimination claim is just over $37,000. Most wrongful termination claims involve an allegation that the employer breached the employment contract or that the termination somehow violated a state or federal employment law. One of the best ways to avoid a discrimination suit or wrongful termination claim is to follow proper procedures when firing employees.

Make Sure All Employees Understand the Company’s Policies

Employees should be fully aware of the company’s policies regarding employee expectations, discipline, and termination. Many employers find that writing policies and procedures in a comprehensive employee handbook is one way to ensure that employees have a written record of rules and expectations. An experienced business lawyer is a tremendously valuable resource when it comes to formulating an employee handbook that gives you the best chances of avoiding a lawsuit.

Conduct Performance Reviews and Document Everything

Unless an employee has committed an especially egregious act that necessitates an immediate termination, firing an employee should be a last resort. An employee who is underperforming should be made aware of the ways in which he or she is not meeting expectations and given guidance on how to improve. Conducting regular performance reviews is a great way to let an employee know when he or she is missing the mark. Make sure you keep documentation of the dates of these reviews, what was discussed during the reviews, and how you and supervisory staff have made efforts to help the struggling employee.

Have a Witness Present at the Termination Meeting

If you have reason to suspect that the employee will not take the termination well or that he or she will attempt to bring a discrimination or wrongful termination claim to spite you, have a witness present during the termination meeting. If you have human resources staff, make sure a member of your HR team is present. If you do not have a dedicated human resources worker, ask a higher-lever employee to sit in on the meeting. A witness will be able to corroborate your version of the events if there is an allegation that you said something you did not actually say during the meeting.

Contact a Wheaton Business Lawyer

For help drafting employment agreements, company policies, hiring practices, and employment handbooks, contact an experienced DuPage County business law attorney from Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. We will help you formulate company policies and contracts that give you the best chances of avoid any future business litigation. If you are the subject of a wrongful termination claim, we will aggressively advocate on your behalf. Call our office at 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation.

Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/344232

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-to-fire-an-employee.html

Investigating the Social Media Conduct of an Employee

Illinois business law attorneyAs most business owners know, the actions and inactions of an employee can greatly impact your company's image. When the action is a positive experience, it reflects well on the company. The exact opposite happens when an employee acts in a way that is considered unacceptable. Unfortunately, if that poor conduct occurs online, the employer may be limited in the actions they can take. Learn more about the investigation of an employee's social media account, including how to avoid violations under the Stored Communications Act.

Unsavory Social Media Behavior

If your company has an image to protect – be it honesty, integrity, compassion, or top-notch customer service – then you may already have a social media policy in place. Unfortunately, some employees may still break the rules, even with the rules in place. If that happens, you may need evidence from an investigation before you can bring action against the offending employee (i.e. termination, lawsuit, etc.). Without it, you may be at risk for litigation. Yet conducting it can also place your company at risk, especially if you violate the SCA.

The Stored Communications Act

Enacted in 1986, the Stored Communications Act protects the private electronic communications of every American. It states that no one can intentionally access the electronic communications of another person without their consent. Not even law enforcement can access certain information without a search warrant. Employers may be at an even further disadvantage and could even be at risk of criminal charges if they violate the Act.

What Can You Access, and How?

One of the easiest ways to monitor an employee's social media account is to request that they add you or your company as a contact. Not only does this give you a first-hand account of what they are posting, but it also gives you a way to take screenshots of offending posts. Another strategy is to require that employees provide you with copies of offending posts. You cannot request access to their account, however, and it is advised that you avoid requesting information that may be unrelated to the offending comment.

Obtain Assistance with Your Company's Needs

Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC understands just how important it is to protect your company. Whether you need assistance with the development of a social media policy, an investigation of an employee, or protection in the face of litigation, we are here for you. Schedule your personalized consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys to learn more. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

http://www.insidecounsel.com/2017/06/22/investigating-employees-social-media-activity-3-pe

https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-1061-unlawful-access-stored-communications-18-usc-2701

 

Electronic Business Contracts – Are They Valid?

Illinois business law attorneysLong gone are the days of doing everything on paper. Pictures and important documents are stored in the cloud. People often connect more with the people on their social media account than their neighbors. Even business contracts are sent and signed digitally. Are digital contracts an effective or legal option for businesses though? Can they stand up in the face of business litigation, or are digital contracts a lawsuit waiting to happen?

Uniform Electronic Transaction Act

In 1999, a total of 47 states adopted the Uniform Electronic Act, which indicates electronic signatures may be considered just as valid and legally binding as a manual one. The state of Illinois did not accept this law, but many digital signatures are considered valid. However, it is important to note that electronic signatures on negotiable instruments are not considered valid in the state of Illinois. Further, there may be additional restrictions placed on the validity of a specific contract or signature.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Contracts

One of the biggest benefits of electronic contracts is that they offer an easy way to send, receive, and store important business and employment contracts. Electronic signatures can also facilitate faster processing of certain documents. However, electronic contracts also have potential disadvantages – some of which are significant.

By far, the most concerning problem of electronic contracts in Illinois is the way they leave room for litigation. This risk is present for many reasons, but the lack of universal standards within the state is one of the most influential. Thankfully, a judge cannot simply deem a signature invalid because it was obtained electronically. Instead, they may consider some of the following aspects:

  • If all elements of a contract were present (offer, consent, acceptance);
  • If both parties entered the contract willfully;
  • The method or manner through which the signature was obtained; and,
  • Any other relevant factors to the case.

Contact Our DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

If you are a business owner who wishes to use electronic contracts in any aspect of your business, it is important that you discuss this desire with an experienced business law attorney. Not only can this prevent a costly mistake, but it can also help ensure your company is compliant in other areas of Illinois business law.

Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC is dedicated to the future of your company. Dedicated and experienced, we can carefully review your current legal processes to determine if there are any issues that may place your company at risk. Schedule your consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys to learn more. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

http://www.uniformlaws.org/Act.aspx?title=Electronic%20Transactions%20Act

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=89&ChapterID=2