The two biggest pitfalls that they face are, and I don’t mean this in a disparaging way, but it’s ignorance. It’s ignorance of the law. It’s ignorance of what their legal obligations are. There’s a lot of really strange laws, especially on a state by state basis that are applicable to the employer, employee relationship and you can’t expect an employer, unless they’ve got a sophisticated legal department or a highly trained human resources’ department, to understand what all of those laws are and what those legal obligations are.
So before you take action against an employee, you have to make sure that you’re not stepping across a legal boundary, that you would give rise to a claim, or potential claim, from the employee. The other thing is that this is particularly true with smaller employers or closely-held businesses or businesses that have single owners. They don’t have a lot of experience dealing with employee conflict that has escalated to the point of legal representation.
So when a demand letter comes in from an attorney from a former employee or a current employee, they don’t really have the tools to figure out how to deal with this. A lot of times they want to fight back right away and sometimes the answer to that question is, let’s just kind of figure out what is really behind all of this and if there’s an easier path to resolving it. It’s really helpful to have that perspective to give the employer the understanding of what it is, what their exposure is, what their risk exposure is, and what the most likely resolution is going to be.