Train Your Employees to Maximize Their Success and Minimize Your Liability Exposure

December 18, 2013

An employer can significantly increase its employees’ likelihood of success in its organization and, at the same time, reduce its liability exposure to most employment claims by providing basic human resources training to managers, supervisors, and rank and file employees. A good training program gives employees advance notice of the employer’s expectations, shows them how to meet those expectations, and helps them take more responsibility for their actions.

Is Training Really Worth It?

Absolutely. A good training program is an especially effective tool for reducing the kind of conduct that often leads to employment separations and post-employment claims. Experience teaches us that employees are more likely to accept responsibility for their actions, and less likely to file claims, when you formally advise them, through training, of your performance and behavioral expectations at the outset of employment and periodically thereafter. Training also signals to employees that you are serious about helping them be successful in your organization; and, they will frequently respond positively to you for taking such an interest.

A good training program is also helpful in the defense of claims. Let’s face it, we live in a day and age that makes it very easy for a disgruntled employee to manufacture and file a discrimination, harassment, or retaliation claim in multiple legal forums even when the employer has done nothing wrong. Simply put, a good training program, well executed by you, can be the difference between a prompt dismissal of a claim and protracted litigation.

When an employee files a claim, you can be certain some of the first questions a government agency or the employee’s lawyer will ask are:

  1. Do you have a policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation?
  2. Do you provide your employees with training concerning such policies? If yes, produce copies of the training materials, dates of training, and attendees.
  3. Did the Complainant ever complain to you of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation? If yes, identify: (a) the date and nature of the complaint; (b) the person who received the complaint and their position; (c) the details regarding any investigation conducted into the complaint and the date and nature of your response; and (d) produce your investigation materials including witness statements, reports, and any other related documentation.

If you can point to good employment policies, well executed training concerning those policies, and prompt and thorough management responses to any issues that arise, then you are likely putting yourself in a much better defensible position than in the absence of such matters. Obviously, each case rises or falls on its own merits. However, we can certainly improve our likelihood of success, and reduce your liability exposure, by taking some small steps now, through training, before a claim arises.

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