7 ways to avoid employees from hell

Lawyers advise how to avoid the courtroom.

By Phaedra Hise, FSB contributor

(FSB Magazine) -- Bill Demeza, a partner at the Holland & Knight law firm, specializes in defending companies from employee lawsuits. Roxanne Davis, principal of Davis Gavsie in Los Angeles, represents employees. Here are their suggestions for avoiding the courtroom.

Know the laws

The latest federal employment regulations can be found at the Web sites of the Department of Labor, EEOC and OSHA. Local regs are trickier to track, as each state has different regulatory agencies. Most employment lawyers offer pamphlets that describe the pertinent requirements.

Have a handbook

It's probably last on your priority list, but an employee handbook establishes that you treat all employees consistently and don't single anyone out.

Don't use contracts

Employment contracts can hamper your ability to fire an employee. If a contract states that you will employ someone for two years, you can't let him go after six months.

Keep written records

Think "evidence." Have managers document conversations and evaluations immediately, even if it's just jotting a (professionally worded) note for the files.

Don't move the aggrieved

Don't assume that your problems will be solved by transferring an employee to another position. He may not consider the new job to be equivalent and could charge retaliation.

Hire well

Even the lowest-level prospect - the kind who is typically hired quickly - should be thoroughly vetted by at least two interviewers. Check references.

Be proactive

Even the smallest personnel issue should be addressed immediately. Any delay will give a potential employee from hell the time to stockpile ammunition for a lawsuit.

Are you seeing an increase in problem employees? What types of bad behavior have you seen at your company? How have you managed difficult workers? Let us know what your experiences have been by writing to mailto:fsb_mail@timeinc.comom.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.