Keep Your Lunch Money!!!
Ahh, we all remember the bully from grade school who performed his usual schoolyard shake down on anyone who was intimidated enough to make with the lunch money or go home with a shiner on the eye. However, many of our childhood stories of bullies end up in some kid finally having the courage to stand up and say ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!’ Times haven’t changed all that much when it comes to the workplace. Increasingly, employees are educating themselves, (or in some cases, educated by others) on the vulnerability of an employer when it comes to claims made through the department of labor. We’ve all heard of the thousands of law suits that yield tenacious employees millions of dollars. Disgruntled employees looking for the quick buck may just set their sights on an unsuspecting but well-intentioned employer. So how do we stand up to this bully? Many are saying it will cost the employer less to just ‘pay the employee off and get rid of them’ to avoid the cost of a lengthy legal battle.
To those, the time has come to say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! When investigating a claim from the employer’s end, the first question, and often the most difficult to answer, is was the scenario intentional. In other words, does the employee have a valid claim? In some cases, the employee may have been mistreated and not given ample opportunity to resolve the matter. However, in other cases the claim is without basis and many times out right fraudulent. The line must be drawn here. By creating an industrial culture that fosters ‘extortion’, we simply perpetuate the situation and welcome more claims and more costly legal battles.
When confronted with a clearly fraudulent claim, FIGHT IT. Examine your documentation, have your HR Representative assist you in constructing an explanation of the facts. This is what the Department of Labor is most interested in. And as we all know, he with the most documentation WINS. You may find yourself threatened by representatives from the claimants party with promises of lawsuits or other legal action, but fear not. Bowing out gracefully only encourages this type of behavior. As an employer, particularly one with a sizable bank account, you are a sizable and worthwhile target. Minimizing your liability requires strong documentation policies and ethical labor practices. If presented with a claim, consult your HR Representative or a company that does HR consulting immediately and invest the time in presenting a concise, detailed and factual response to the DOL. Fight it, all the way to the top if you have to but FIGHT IT.
Particularly if your company’s integrity is at stake. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
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