Nobody wants to undergo any sort of legal battle, but it unfortunately comes with the territory of running a business.
Think about it. You’re interacting with people day-in and day-out. Mistakes and oversights happen. Combine this with a relatively sue-happy society and you have a recipe for trouble if you don’t have all of your legal bases covered.
The reality, though? For big businesses juggling tons of employee and responsibilities, legal snags are inevitable. Some go away with relative ease while others can grow into massive headaches, especially if a company has to deal with multiple issues simultaneously.
Perhaps the most proactive step a business owner can take is to understand what the most common legal issues faced by companies and what to expect from them, respectively. Although you can’t avoid everything, understanding the following six issues can keep you from hitting the “panic” button if and when the time comes.
Unlike other legal issues, audits can be voluntary under certain circumstances. Audits don’t necessarily have to lead to trouble, but can instead open to your business’ eyes to potential problems before they arise. Basically, the key to surviving a compliance audit reviewing your business’ processes and have everything in order regarding your business’ data.
How you treat your employees obviously matters, but bear in mind just how much potential legal power your workers might have over you.
In a day and age where documenting workplace incidents is easier than ever, you have to pay close attention to how you speak to employees, treat their overtime and especially how you let them go.
For example, employees seeking compensation might file a wrongful termination case against you. That’s why details such as having a witness during an employee dismissal and keeping up with contracts can’t be ignored.
No business owners want to assume the worst of their workers, nor should they walk on eggshells when it comes to talking to them. That said, running your business by the book will keep you out of hot water for the most part.
Customers can also file claims against your business, especially if legal wording on your website is loose. Selling products that don’t meet the expectations or standards of customers represents bad news for your business and opens you up to a whole slew of lawsuits.
Even if they never amount to anything serious, offering customer support is a great way to quell these concerns. If you get frequent complaints regarding a product or service, don’t just ignore them. Instead, connect with customers to get down to why they’re so unhappy and take action to prevent those complaints in the future.
Arguably one of the most serious types of legal suits to go through, understanding how to handle harassment claims can save business tons of time and stress.
For starters, you need to play the role of listener to anyone bringing such claims forward. Do not assume that they’re after money or are being inherently dishonest. Your HR team and internal policies should guarantee against such cases but a string of harassment claims could spell out bigger-picture problems for your company culture.
Whether it’s patents or plagiarism, it always pays to take special care when it comes to anything that could be perceived as a copyright violation. When creating materials for your business and its website, make sure that everything is original and don’t take liberties with the work of others. Being labeled as a theft of intellectual property is a kiss of death for a business, so it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to such materials.
From tax fraud to paperwork oversights, having the IRS knock down your proverbial door represents a potential nightmare scenario for many business owners. This can be especially nerve-wracking if you’ve left the specifics of your taxes to a professional.
Don’t freak out if you hit a snag with your taxes and remain calm when talking it out with your legal counsel. Unless someone is maliciously trying to commit fraud, chances are you can amend any problems without taking a major financial hit.
Whether you suspect you might be entrenched in an upcoming legal battle or you simply want to have your bases covered, understanding these issues is a solid starting point toward protecting yourself.
While you should take such concerns seriously, they certainly don’t have to mean the end of your business. Simply take them one step at a time and keep in the back of your mind what you can do to avoid them in the first place.
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