Below is a phone conversation I recently had with a friend who heads Employee Relations at a large company in the retail industry.
Friend: I think you were right!
Me: About what? I am right about many things (unless I am on the other side of an argument with my wife).
Friend: About what’s coming soon once life goes back to “normal” and the workplaces open up again.
Me: I tried to warn you!
Friend: We know now. We want to be prepared to handle it as best as we possibly can. Do you know when it’ll start?
Me: Precisely? No. Likely in the next 180 days. But there are things you can do to get ready now.
At this point, if you’re still reading, you’re wondering what is coming. Hang on, I am going to tell you. But before I do, let me share with you some of the things I know. I know these things based on my 15 years of experience as an employment lawyer and now as the founder and CEO of #NotMe, the best misconduct reporting solution for employees and employers.
I share that so you know my ‘predictions’ are based, not on what I think, but on what I’ve seen and the data collected. What I personally believe has nothing to do with what I will be addressing in the below paragraphs.
So what is coming?
What is coming is a tidal wave of employment lawsuits like we’ve not seen in a long time. I’m not alone in this opinion (employment lawyers, whether on the defense or plaintiff’s sides, agree). But what is surprising, perhaps shocking, is how poorly prepared many employers are.
Why is an employment litigation tidal wave coming?
A few reasons:
- COVID was not a good time for employees to speak up and raise concerns. A lot of the misconduct, or other ethical violations that could expose employers did not come out yet. It is about to though.
- Employers and employees are now facing many new challenges and issues that did not exist before COVID (wandering worker or nomad employee, vaccines, new wage and hour challenges, health & safety etc.)
- A lot of the workforce has been confined at home and is about to return to work. As a result we will see more claims. Not to state the obvious but misconduct is more likely to take place when people are physically together. Particularly after being cooped up inside for over a year.
- Employers for the most part have still not fostered a speak up culture and understood its importance.
- Many employers still approach workplace misconduct with the misunderstanding that if there is very little reporting from their employees, then issues are few. As a result employers know very little about the misconduct happening.
- Economic downturns create employment litigation. When a person loses their job and cannot or does not find a new employment easily, they often sue.
- Courts were closed for a while, litigation slowed down and many plaintiff’s lawyers waited for the world to open to file lawsuits they prepared during the pandemic.
The plaintiff’s bar will be targeting certain industries. We know that.
On the single plaintiff’s type of cases, claims will for the most part - I believe - be about:
- Wrongful termination/discharge
- Workplace safety
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
On the class action front, you will see different types of claims (feel free to contact me at email@example.com. if you are interested in knowing what those claims will be).
If you are in HR, ER, Compliance or are the CEO of a company in any industry, particularly those listed below, you are going to be very busy.
But not the good kind of busy. The annoying kind. Having to spend time with lawyers, at depositions, dealing with discovery issues, etc.
Can you do some smart litigation armoring and get ready for what is coming next?
Implementing #NotMe helps companies prevent these issues from escalating to this point. It can save time, money and energy by listening and learning about employee concerns earlier, therefore allowing for course-correction rather than late-stage costly clean up.
We’re here to assist smart companies that want to try something different, foster a speak up culture and listen to their employees in an innovative way so they can get a better grasp of the risk to their reputation, reduce employee turnover and prevent employment law related litigation and costs associated with it.
So I ask you again— are you ready for what’s coming?