APRIL 2016 – Top Ten Things Employers Do to Get Sued

Employers’ most important tool of operation to keep them out of Labor Board Hearings and courtrooms is information. For the next several months a series of “must know” facts about employment issues will be published in the chamber newsletter. The information was provided CalChamber HR Specialists.


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Things employers DO to get sued

Make everyone an “independent contractor” because having employees is too much trouble.

Just because you want the employee to be one, or because the employee prefers independent contractor status, does to make it so. This is another area of the law just ripe for claims and/or litigation. The “independent contractor” is quite happy until money is an issue – such as a workers compensation claim, unemployment insurance, state disability insurance or paid family leave benefits. Another problem scenario is when the Franchise Tax board or the Internal Revenue Service ant tax money, but the “independent contractor” hasn’t been paying his/her quarterly payments, owes lots of money, can’t be found or has no assets. The employer has money and failed to make the require tax withholdings – so now the employer owes.

Independent contractor status does not have a fixed definition by all the government entities that may have a claim for money owed. The primary determining factor is degree of control; who determines the manner in which the work is performed, how it is performed, who supplied the tools or equipment and where the work is performed.

Also important in determining employee or independent contractor status is whether the work is a regular part of the employer’s business. If your company makes a product and you hire an independent contractor to help make the product, chances are the individual is an employee. But if you make a product and you hire someone to paint your building, that person is an independent contractor.

Don’t bother providing training about harassment and discrimination to managers and supervisors. They won’t need the information.

The best defense you have against discrimination or harassment complaint is usually your first-line supervisors, because they are the eyes and ears of the organization. Invest in training on topics such as sexual harassment, discrimination, disability, and safety and wage-and-hour laws if you want to provide an additional layer of protection from lawsuits. Employers with 50 or more employees are required by law to provide two hours of training on sexual harassment for their supervisors. This training must be conducted every two years.