Legal problems are part of running a business. Every entrepreneur has encountered a legal problem or two. It’s like a baptism of fire for businesses. But that doesn’t mean they are any less daunting or nerve-wracking. People never want to face legal problems but if you’re running a business, an employee or even ex-employee has all the legal rights to sue you for various reasons. That’s one of the risks of having your own business.
What are the kinds of lawsuits you may face when running a business? An ex-employee can sue you because of wrongful termination if an employee feels that you fired him/her without reason. You may also have to face harassment lawsuits if the employees experienced physical, verbal, sexual, and emotional harassment. If there was an accident in your worksite, expect to see personal injury lawsuits filed against you.
The discrimination lawsuit is probably the most common type of lawsuit that companies face today. Companies cannot discriminate against employees especially as it pertains to gender, race, and age. Hiring managers are not even allowed to ask about a candidate’s religion, race, and gender preference because that’s discriminatory.
Don’t worry because you don’t always have to go to trial. Your team of civil litigation attorneys will discuss four options. If you can settle the lawsuit amicably out of court, you don’t have to drag your company’s name in trouble. You should always strive to solve legal issues out of court so that the lawsuit won’t affect your company’s reputation and brand.
Negotiating a settlement is the easiest way to resolve a potential lawsuit. Your lawyer should reach out to your ex-employees’ or employees’ lawyer. The two parties will agree to settle the issue out of court. The idea is for the plaintiff to agree to a fair settlement amount. Once the parties agree to a settlement, the lawyers will draw the paperwork and sign the documents. The defendant (the company) should pay the settlement. The case will only be considered resolved once you pay the settlement.
This is the easiest way to settle a lawsuit. Most parties don’t want to get to the trial part of the lawsuit because it is stressing to both the defendant and the plaintiff. Although a lawsuit may hurt your negotiation, your lawyer will advise you not to settle quickly. The lawyers must first review the case if your business indeed made a mistake.
If the parties did not settle, they can go to mediation. It is essentially like a settlement but there’s a mediator between the two lawyers. The goal is to determine a fair compensation for both parties. The mediator will determine if your business made a mistake and whether it is more financially practical to settle or go to trial. Another thing that the mediation process will determine is the impact of the lawsuit on the business and the employee.
If there is no chance that the lawsuit will be settled either through settlement or mediation, the next step is arbitration. This process is similar to presenting your case in court. But instead of a judge, an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators will listen to the merits of the case. Who are the arbitrators? The lawyers of both parties, together with the arbitration association, will choose the arbitrators.
Before the process begins, the arbitrators need to prove that they are neutral to the case. You are still allowed to have a lawyer or representation in an arbitration process. This is the quicker and more affordable way of taking the case to court.
When all else fails, your lawyer will advise that you have to take the lawsuit to court. Before an open court, the judges will make sure that both parties exhausted all means to resolve the issue. Similar to what you watch in your favorite shows, the lawyers of both parties will present the merits of the case before a judge. They will argue about the case while the judge will review the evidence presented.
The output of the trial is the final verdict for the lawsuit. While you can appeal a decision, it will usually take more time and money. Are you sure your business can take any more beating? Sometimes, it’s better to look at the bigger picture and weigh what will work better for your business.
Great lawyers will guide you throughout the whole process. When you receive the notice of a lawsuit, let your lawyers see it before you react. If you trust your lawyers will protect your business and you’re sure you didn’t do anything wrong, then you shouldn’t worry about the case. Rather, you should focus on making sure your reputation remains intact.