“This article has been produced by an independent contributor and does not reflect the views and opinions of the Immediation team or the brand as a whole.”
As a small business owner, there is always the looming fear of litigation affecting your business. These legal headaches will often take you by surprise and have the potential to hurt your business bottom line.
Here are the 3 most common (and unnecessary) legal issues small businesses end up in court for.
The disgruntled employee
One of the most common challenges in small businesses, dealing with disgruntled employees is inevitable no matter how thorough your employment process is. A disgruntled employee can lead to the rise of several different legal issues, from internal workplace conflict to claims against wrongful termination.
Where an issue pertaining to a disgruntled employee arises, do not leave the matter unattended until it’s too late. Approach the issue with a professional etiquette while maintaining a calm and reasonable demeanour. By doing so, you will aid in not escalating the emotional sensitivities of the issue, thus allowing you time to mediate and resolve it without having to go to court. If left unattended, issues with disgruntled employees often end up in employment tribunals which will cost a small business an arm and a leg to defend.
Where issues relating to discrimination or harassment arise, ensure that your Human Resources Department is well equipped to handle these issues. Ongoing efforts, such as regular staff meetings or an open door policy, to ensure that there isn’t any discrimination happening should be practiced.
Mediating employee issues can help ensure a healthy employer-employee relationship is maintained. This is crucial especially if the employee is to continue as an employee in your place of business.
Business partner relationship fallouts
When entering a small business operation with a business partner, it is apparent that there is a strong relationship between both parties. Unfortunately, just like a marriage, business partner relationships can break down no matter how thoroughly vetted they were when they began.
It is commonplace for individuals who feel disrespected by a business partner to seek legal advice on next steps and court remedies. Albeit common, going to court isn’t necessarily the best course of action when dealing with a business relationship breakdown. Using alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation have a higher chance of mending business partner relationships, and maintains a positive relationship regardless of the outcome.
One of the most daunting things to deal with in a small business are dissatisfied customers. Unfortunately, no matter how well you conduct your business, there will be times when you will encounter a customer who simply can’t be satisfied.
Unhappy customers aren’t just a matter of bad public relations, but they bear the risk of filing class action lawsuits against your company. It is therefore important to be as proactive when dealing with dissatisfied customers through customer support online via message boards and emails, on the phone, and in person.
The best way to manage unhappy customers who insist on taking some form of legal action is to mediate with them to find an amicable solution for all. Through mediation, costs to settle disputes are lowered significantly when compared with litigation, and resolution times are quicker.
When deciding to approach a legal issue through mediation, small businesses should consider online mediation for its added benefits beyond what traditional mediation can offer. The flexible time scheduling allows all parties to convene at convenient times (even those outside business hours).
Online mediation has also been known to save costs by as much as 98% when compared to litigation, with some platforms thriving quick turnaround times as short as 30 days. Check out Immediation’s online dispute resolution pricing