Most employees may be completely unaware of the laws which their employers must uphold to operate legally. For many workers, these responsibilities are not part of their day-to-day tasks and projects, and as such little may be known about them in the general workforce. However, it is a fascinating fact that between 36 to 53% of small businesses in America are sued each year, often for contravening a range of employment laws. These legal actions can cost firms millions of dollars and in some cases can force the closure of the organization. All employers should be fully aware of their legal responsibilities which often stretch beyond employment laws. This article explains three distinct types of legal responsibility that may affect a wide range of businesses.
There are a wide range of laws and pieces of legislation that must be adhered to by any organization that employs staff members on a contractual basis. These may vary from country to country, but there are some broad general themes. Most businesses will need to ensure that they take all reasonable steps to protect the safety of their employees in the workplace. For example, if an employee sustains an injury because of a slip, trip or fall at work and it is recognized that the employer was negligent in taking steps to reduce the risk of this occurring, they may be held liable, and the employee can sue their employer for compensation. In addition, an employer must ensure that they treat all employees fairly at work and do not discriminate based on age, gender or sexuality. If an employee feels that they have been unfairly discriminated against they may be able to take the employer to a tribunal and seek legal redress. As a final example, many countries operate a minimum pay rule where an employee in low paid work is entitled to a minimum wage for their work. If the amount paid is less than this, then there may be grounds for legal action against the employer.
Many companies that operate in the manufacturing industry are required to adhere to a range of environmental protection rules and regulations. If these are breached, for example in the case of a chemical spill or the release of excessive levels of pollution, legal action may be brought against the firm by a toxic torts lawyer team who specialize in such cases. In recent years, many companies have been taken to court and successfully prosecuted when they have been found to have been responsible for severe air or water pollution as a direct result of their activities.
In recent decades, the laws around data protection have been strengthened in many countries. This has partly been in response to the increasingly digital world and the recognition that a person’s personal or sensitive data should be protected by law. Recent laws relating to data protection include GDPR legislation that was passed in the European Union and in other western countries in 2018. If American companies process information that involves EU countries or offers products and services to these areas, they must also comply with this legislation. When data breaches occur and sensitive or personal data is lost, the company involved may be held responsible in a court of law.