Employee lawsuits: A dangerously overlooked risk

Did you know that the average small business in the United States is five times more likely to be sued over an employment issue than any other reason? For medical practices, this means being sued by one of your own employees poses an even greater threat than being accused of medical malpractice, according to a recent post on the Physicians Practice blog.

And according to attorney/author Ike Devji, JD, difficult economic times only compound the trend of employees "suing more often, winning more often and winning proportionately larger and larger judgments." Not only does a recession raise financial stakes for employees, Devji explains, it also drives up employment attorneys' advertisements for "no risk or cost" lawsuits promising high-yield rewards. Even in meritless cases, employers often feel forced to pay an immediate settlement (typically $20,000 - $30,000) rather than face potential EEOC action and/or a civil lawsuit costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend or pay out.

The good news is that this risk is avoidable--just as long as practices can defend themselves with well-crafted employment agreements and handbooks that use existing law to protect the rights of both parties. Too often, however, practices discover only after being sued for unlawful termination or similar charges that their employment agreements are too generic or not current with rapidly changing labor laws.

Thus, it's critical for practices to consult with employment attorneys or other organizations specializing in labor law to be sure their handbooks, policies and forms are up to snuff.

To learn more:
- read the post on Physicians Practice