The most precarious time for any business is in its first year of operations. This is the time when reputations budgets are built or destroyed when finances are at their tightest and when clients and customers are hardest to come by. A lawsuit brought against your Chattanooga business is something that you will want to avoid no matter how old your business is. For startups, however, a lawsuit can do especially serious damage to you financially, as well as potentially tarnishing the reputation of your business forever. To make sure that you stay out of unwanted court proceedings, here are 3 lawsuits that you would want to avoid as a startup in Chattanooga.
1. Workplace Injury
There are around 3 million workplace injuries in the US every year. There are several reasons why workplace injuries occur, but they can end up costing your business a huge amount of money. We reached out to the experts from The Davis Firm, who represent the victims of workplace injuries in Chattanooga, and they told us that it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that their employees have safe working conditions.
Typically, victims of workplace injuries receive around three times the amount of their medical bills. If an employee brings a workplace injury lawsuit against your startup, the compensation payout that you may have to make could well be significant enough to close you down. The best way to avoid workplace injury lawsuits is to maintain the highest safety standards. Bring in a professional safety advisor to make sure that your offices and other work areas are accident-proof and make sure that every member of your team has comprehensive on-job safety training.
2. Sexual Harassment
A sexual harassment case against your startup can be enormously damaging both financially and to your reputation. In recent years, the MeToo Movement has seen some high profile sexual harassment cases brought against employers and those in positions of power, and this has seen a positive trend of working women speaking out against co-workers and bosses who have acted inappropriately towards them.
There have been a few sexual harassment cases in Chattanooga the last couple of years that were on the front pages and so if you want to ensure that your business’s reputation stays intact and that you are providing a safe work environment for all your employees, it is vital that you give comprehensive sexual harassment training to everyone at your company and that you enforce a zero-tolerance policy. A strong stand against workplace sexual harassment is not just something that should be done for legal reasons, it is the responsibility of every single business to ensure that it is stamped out so that nobody has to go to work and suffer at the hands of a colleague.
3. Wrongful Dismissal
Three main factors determine how much compensation you will be ordered to pay if an ex-employee brings a successful wrongful dismissal against you: lost wages, pain, and suffering, and attorney fees. Lost wages do not even necessarily just mean the money that your employee would have earned at your business in the time since their dismissal, it can also mean future loss of wages. If for example, your employee was earning $50,000 and then had a really hard time finding another job after you dismissed them, you may be responsible for paying their salary until they do. This can be a huge burden on a startup company where staff budgets are often very tight.
Pain and suffering can also cost your business a huge amount of money. Pain and suffering is such a subjective thing to measure that all you need is an unfavorable judge and you could be hit with a financial order that puts your startup in real jeopardy. Likewise, if you lose the case, you will be responsible for your ex-employees’ legal fees, and if they are good enough to secure their client a big settlement, they probably don’t come cheap. Make sure that you follow all the proper legal requirements if you need to dismiss someone. Keep records of written warnings, contemporary accounts of their workplace behavior and performance, and any conversations you had with your ex-employee.
Starting a new business carries all kinds of risks and especially in your first year of operations, the last thing you need is an expensive lawsuit that could bring down your whole company. The best way to protect your business from lawsuits is to prevent incidents from happening. Make sure that your staff is fully trained and that all areas are safe and secure. If there is an issue in your business that needs addressing, take swift and decisive action to make sure it doesn’t spiral out of control into a costly lawsuit.