Read More »" /> 101 Ways to Improve your Cooperative | National Cooperative Law Center - Part 7

101 Ways To Improve Your Cooperative


        One of the biggest sources of litigation for businesses comes from their employees. This section deals with handling common problems and solutions.

57. The best advice is not to have employees. That is, we recommend that the Cooperative shift the liability and risks associated with the myriad of legal responsibilities to the Management Agent.

58. Sexual harassment by or against an employee remains a major source of lawsuits. There must be proper training of the staff and Management Agent to teach people what constitutes the various forms of sexual harassment, which is sometimes very subjective, as well as the ways to deal with claims. In the cooperative setting, procedures must deal not only with staff vs. staff, but also the other relationships including Board vs. staff; member vs. staff; and contractor vs. staff. The Cooperative Attorney should be charged with this issue and the necessary training. Check your insurance policy to make sure this is a covered claim.

59. Embezzlement by employees is common place, even in Cooperatives. Internal controls should be suggested by the Auditor to minimize the risk, including handling checks and cash, signing Cooperative checks, and the like. Bonding and insurance coverage are also essential.

60. Employees should all be “at will” so as to avoid lawsuits when and if it is necessary to fire them.

61. There must be an employee manual or policy that communicates what is expected of employees. Topics include:

At will status

Sexual harassment

Prohibition against discrimination

Controls on use of credit cards

Prohibition on involvement in Cooperative politics

62. Renting units to employees is not a good idea. If you have to fire them, how long does it take to forcibly evict them if they do not leave voluntarily? Meanwhile, what havoc can they cause among members?

63. Perform background checks of job applicants. Make sure they sign a release so that you can look into:

Criminal history

Financial status (are they candidates to steal?)

Social media (what kind of person are they really?)

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