Disgruntled Employees And The Law

July 26, 2016
Disgruntled Employees And The Law Recently, there was a terrible tragedy involving a disgruntled employee who sought revenge against the television network that fired him and replaced him with his ex-coworker. In March of 2012, Vester Lee Flanagan whose television name was Bryce Williams began to work in broadcast journalism after he was hired by WDBJ of Roanoke, Virginia. However, the situation soon became problematic when Flanagan started up arguments and confrontations with his colleagues. This led to a civil lawsuit pursued by Flanagan once he was fired by the station after several warnings of unprofessional conduct. In his lawsuit, Flanagan alleges that his experiences at the station was “nothing short of vile, disgusting and inexcusable.” The wrongful termination and racial discrimination lawsuits were “fully and completely resolved and compromised” said a judge in Roanoke who dismissed the case. Over the course of 3 years, Flanagan became so angry that he opened fire on both Alison Parker and Adam Ward, a reporter and cameraman of the network, and killed them while they were on air. This pursuit was documented on August 26, 2015 during a live broadcast. He also posted a video on Twitter, showing his attack before eventually deleting his account and taking his own life [1]. A situation like this is extreme but unfortunately is a reality that employers can face today. Disgruntled employees are dangerous to any institution because of the damage they may cause. Employers should know their legal rights to prevent a situation like this from occurring. Employee Claims Although discrimination and unfair terminations do happen, more often than not discharges, demotions and other personnel actions are the result of legitimate business actions. Many of the claims and lawsuits are exaggerated and, although employers often win their cases, such law suits are costly to defend. Costs include employee time, energy and distraction, lost production, business disruption and legal fees. You may think you have coverage for such claims; however, you probably do not. Generally, commercial general liability, workers' compensation, employers' liability, and directors' and officers' liability do not provide such protection. Today, lawsuits happen for the most trivial of reasons. The best policy is to document everything that is taking place. Whatever the disgruntled employee has done that needed to be corrected should be documented, as should how you addressed it. Documenting everything, from warnings and discussions to termination of employment-if you have to go that far- will help to protect you and your company. One way that an employer can prevent a former employee's lawsuit is by threatening to file a counterclaim against the employee if the lawsuit has not yet been filed or by filing a counterclaim against the employee after the case has been filed. The prospect of defending – and perhaps losing – a counterclaim can be particularly daunting to an employee and it may discourage an employee with a weak claim from pressing forward [2]. If you believe that you or your company is being pursued by a disgruntled employee with a baseless claim, it's urgent that you retain an experienced employment lawyer who understands that it is not always the employer's fault. Usually, employees will begin the process of litigation through an employee demand letter that describes the claims against the employer and requests that the employer pay a specified amount to resolve the claims without litigation. This is a serious act that must be looked over by an attorney. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA The lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA understand that to every claim, there's a counterclaim that could be made. Having a counterclaim against the employee can be a particularly daunting action to a disgruntled employee and it may discourage an employee with a weak claim from any more litigation. If you have any concerns about your rights as an employer or believe your company is being wrongly accused of discriminatory practices or other termination issues please call an experienced Clearwater employment lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at (727) 451-6900 for a free consultation today.  Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/employment-law-attorneys/ References: [1] Police: Bryce Williams fatally shoots self after killing journalists on air [2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentgleeson/2014/06/27/6-big-reasons-employees-sue-and-how-to-protect-yourself/#11a758465909

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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