I have recently heard about a case an employee won that involved a $200,000 payout in a Podiatry practice.
Regardless of the dollar amount of the damages paid, practices can also face reputational risks when/if the ‘cat is let out of the bag’.
The good news is such lawsuits generally don’t occur without warning and are usually the final link in a long contentious chain of practice owner-employee relations. Following are four practical suggestions that can help practice owners break – or better yet completely avoid – this costly series of events.
Train Senior Staff and Practice Managers – Fundamental but always helpful. Training can, among other things, sensitize your key staff to the kind of issues, such as wrongful termination and discrimination, that pose common legal risks. Training raises senior staff and practice managers awareness, a first step in prevention.
Document Diligently – A key function for all practices everywhere, when serious employee-related issues occur, is to document them diligently. Having a thorough, accurate record of a past history of employee problems can prove invaluable to the practice owner should allegations of impropriety later be raised. Good records make good management. Sometimes the best offense is a good defence.
Recognize “situations” before they become problems – Practice owners need to develop their own “risk plans” that help them become aware of potential employee-related minefields – for example, repeated serious run-ins with especially argumentative, difficult individuals. When such situations are recognized early, they can be defused, or at least handled carefully.