This is not a complete and exhaustive list of all employees that bring lawsuits against their employers, but merely a summary of the kinds of things that I have observed that prompted employees to file a lawsuit. These are some common reasons for why employees sought to sue their employer or actually sued their employers:
1. Lack of clarity on what is expected from the employee. Many employees quit and then sue their employers, because of a lack of clarity of what is expected from the employee. Employee's seek legal advise when the hours, the pay, the tasks, or other terms are unclear. They apparently feel exploited when the scope of their duties exceeds the expectations that were established during the orientation.
Employer's should be clear as to what is expected employees from the very beginning when the employment relationship is established. For some reason or other employees often feel exploited when their expectations and actual duties are conflicting. Employee's quitting or contemplating quitting often seek legal advise when they feel they have been exploited, and even though there might not be a basis for a lawsuit on the grounds that the employee feels
exploited, a skilled attorney will know what questions to ask and a lawsuit may result.
2. Terminating a long term employee. Long term employee's often seek legal advise when they are terminated, regardless of what the reason is or even if there is no reason. Long term employee's often feel the employer owes them for their long term commitment to the employer, and often they feel they have a right to the job. Generally there is no actionable cause of action against the employer, when the employee is terminated, but if the employer failed to comply with all rules especially rest periods, meal breaks, and over time pay, the employee would have a viable lawsuit. Terminating long term employees
should be approached with great caution, and the employer should make an effort to end the relationship on good terms.
3. Money hungry employees. Employer's should be very careful when selecting new employees that give the impression they are money hungry. Employees asking for raises, advances, or filing bankruptcy, or otherwise indicating they are in need of money, often seek legal counsel shortly after they quit.
These are often the same type of employees that have a drinking problem or drug addiction. If the employer failed to document everything pertaining to meal breaks, rest periods, and actual hours worked a viable lawsuit might result. Money hungry employees often look to the legal system as a means of obtaining money.
4. Hiring employees as independent contractors. Most independent contractor agreements are not valid, because they lack something or because the employer is acting as an employer and the contractor acts as en employee. Employees should not use independent contractor agreements to hire employees. Independent contractors should be independent contractors and employees should be employees.
Using an independent contractor's agreement is a problem that come back to hurt the employer. Depending on the circumstances the employer is not safe for about four years after the fact.
There are also many disadvantages to the employee hired as independent contractor and as they try to remedy the disadvantages they often seek legal counsel.
5. Over religious employees. Some over religious employees often seek to advance their religious beliefs at every opportunity. This leads to problems for employers, because religion necessarily involves potential liability for religious discrimination, it could be the religious advocate or it could be other employees. Employer's should address the issue of
religion and make inquiry as to whether there is a need to accommodate religious beliefs or practices.
This should be done very early on and there should be clarity so as to avoid conflict among employees. The employer should be sensitive as to religious views of all its employees and be certain to avoid any type of discrimination or perhaps even refrain from commenting on religion in the workplace to avoid any type of conflict that could result in a lawsuit.
6. Mistreating employees. No one likes to be mistreated and mistreated employees often seek legal counsel. Such things as bounced payroll checks, late payroll checks, bank fees on for cashing payroll checks, unauthorized payroll deductions, and other such things irritate employees and often the employee is right and the $5 dollar fee to cash a payroll check at the employer's bank can turn into a $30,000 judgment against the employer.
Employer's are not required to be generous, but they are required to be fair. The Labor Code imposes many requirements pertaining to fairness and at the minimal employer's should adhere to the law to minimize the number of potential lawsuits.
These are six reasons that why employees are prompted to seek legal counsel from my firm which often leads to viable lawsuits. No one is immune from a lawsuit, but employers should be sensitive to their actions and employee needs. The reason for the call to an attorney is usually not the basis of a lawsuit, but is what initiates the contact with an attorney that often results in a lawsuit.