With so many items on the “to do” list, new employees at start ups are often immediately thrown into the fire. Everything seems to move at a quicker pace for new companies, and it is common for employees to simply learn as they go and for problems to be ironed out as they arise. It is natural for new workers at these companies to operate differently than those in large, established companies. However, there may be some basic protocols that even brand new companies should take from their established rivals, like decent employee training. The cost in money and time at the outset often proves to be a lifesaver for new businesses down the road.
Lessons from the Mayor
One of the most high-profile California stories this month involved lawsuits filed against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. As many know, several female staff members recently came forward, claiming that the Mayor engaged in egregious conduct and sxual harassment. The case took on unique legal arguments when Filner’s own attorney argued in a letter to the San Diego attorney, that the city lawyer should defend the suit with public funds, because the city failed to provide the Mayor with sexual harassment training.
There has been considerable back-and-forth in the case, the City voted to deny representation and the seeking to recover from Filner if the City is found liable for anything.
Don’t Think It Can’t Happen
Regardless of the outcome in the legal matter, the story is a stark reminder of the pitfalls that can come to any entity–from a start up to an entire city–when corners are cut in basic employment matters. That is particularly true when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace. The start up graveyard is littered with promising enterprises that were destroyed by misconduct by a single, new employee. Juries continually award multi-million dollar verdicts in these cases. In evaluating these matters, the conduct of the company is often placed under strict scrutiny. If one of these suits is filed, an analysis will likely be conducted to determine how the offending employee was hired and what training was provided.
Of course, sexual harassment is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential employee-related disputes. Any proper training regime at a business, including new companies, should tackle a wide range of issues.
Other common employment law problems that new companies often face relate to misclassification of workers, wage and hour violations, improper background checks, using unenforceable non-compete agreements, and more.
Training can play a role in minimizing many of these problems. The employee training for start ups is particularly important, because even new employees may be asked to take on critical work for the company which may have a more immediate impact on the entire operation. Not only can thorough employee preparation help stave off legal problems, but it usually leads to improved employee satisfaction.