Five Reasons An Employee Can Sue You After Being Fired

The treatment of employees is always a potential minefield for companies, and there are a lot of do’s and dont’s to keep in mind. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing lawsuits from ex-employees.

It is important to make sure that your workplace policies as well as your employees’ and your own behavior are in line with employment laws and regulations. Thus, it is helpful to bear in mind the main reasons for which employers are frequently sued, so your business can avoid these pitfalls. Below are five common reasons for which an employee might sue a business:

1. On-The-Job Discrimination

One reason is on-the-job discrimination. Employers risk facing claims of discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender, religion, and marital status or childbirth, among other possibilities. State and federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of such protected classifications.

These protections extend to employee hiring practices as well as the time during which the worker is actually employed. It is important for your business to have an anti-discrimination policy and to investigate any complaints of discrimination that one employee makes against another.

2. Harassment

A physician's assistant by the name of Ani Chopourian won $188 million suing Mercy General Hospital for sexual harassment.(source)

A physician’s assistant by the name of Ani Chopourian won $168 million suing Mercy General Hospital for sexual harassment. (source)

Another typical liability for which businesses get sued in the employment context is harassment. This is related to discrimination, and deals with conduct that attacks or insults an employee on the basis of any of the protected categories discussed above.

Harassment can also be sexual in nature, involving suggestive acts or comments, propositions, or inappropriate staring or jokes. An employee can sue his employer and claim that he was subjected to such conduct because he was in the protected class and the harassing behavior served to create a hostile work environment.

You should always take steps to investigate an employee’s complaint of discrimination or harassment properly and discipline the offending co-workers when necessary.

3. Wage Related Claims

Employees can also sue businesses for wage-related claims. Businesses are subject to a variety of state and federal rules and regulations governing what wages they can pay employees, overtime policies, etc.

As a result, employees can sue businesses after they have been fired for unpaid wages or overtime or for paying less than minimum wage. Note that businesses can also be investigated by government agencies for these types of complaints.

4. Workers With Disabilities

The American with Disabilities Act celebrated it's 20 year anniversary in July 2010.

The American with Disabilities Act celebrated it’s 20 year anniversary in July 2010.

Businesses are also sometimes sued for failing to provide accommodations for workers with disabilities. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses with more than 15 employees must provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities.

This also applies to job hiring and employers may not reject a job candidate because of a disability unless the candidate cannot carry out the essential functions of the position even with a reasonable accommodation.

5. Unfairly Disciplined Employees

Finally, employees also often sue businesses over claims of having been unfairly disciplined.

For example, employees sometimes allege that an employer applied disciplinary policy unequally in different cases. Employees can allege unfair discipline under wrongful termination and even whistleblower statutes.

Check with a PA business lawyer to ensure that your employment policies are in line with state and federal laws.