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A Guide On How To Protect Your Company From an Employee Lawsuit

Updated on October 20, 2015

Employers mistreating employees is not the only reason that employee lawsuits are on the rise.

As all of us can attest, we are now living in the eye of the storm called the information age. I would not be exaggerating if I told you that you can go to www.youtube.com and learn how to do just about anything.

The good and the bad news is that many times you will learn how to do it well. Now that is a good thing most of the time. But I have to tell you that it has it's downside. You see Labor Law Attorneys have discovered that employees with enquiring minds really do want to know how to sue their employer and win.

Now as I look at this scenario, it is kind of like the question, which came first the chicken or the egg? The truth is, it really doesn't matter, the information is out and in some cases Attorneys (Ambulance Chasers) are doing their best to educate employees on how to sue their employer and win.

Meanwhile back at the ranch the average employer is not taking the necessary steps to get and stay in compliance. For those employers who want to complain about the complexity of getting and staying in compliance, I would encourage you to ponder this, try explaining why you are not in compliance.

Before you stop reading this note because you feel that I am being hard on employers let me encourage you to continue reading because I do have some very helpful information that will be coming shortly.

In fact let's not wait any longer it is time to give you some basic but good steps that will help you to get and stay in compliance. When you are in compliance your rights as an employer are much better protected.

Laying The Proper Compliance Foundation:

  • Have a good employee handbook. There are many employers out there who are still afraid to have an employee handbook. Many times they tell me I don't want to be bound by a policy that I write today.
  • What employers who say this, or things like this do not understand is this. In the absence of a good employee handbook your daily actions and activities determine your company's policies on a daily business. And this is not a good thing.
  • When your daily actions determine your policies there is no foundation for either you, or the employee. Not only that, but the things that you allow today and then don't allow tomorrow are the very things that could lead you into court, and if that is the case you will lose and lose big. So that is not good.

What Is A Good Employee Handbook?

  • A good employee handbook is one that is both consistent and fair.
  • A good employee handbook lets the employee know what they can expect from you, along with what you are expecting from your employees.
  • In today's world a good employee handbook will have a good anti bullying in the workplace policy. This is important in light of the fact that about 50% of all employees are being bullied in the workplace.
  • A good employee handbook will have your at-will policy established somewhere between pages one and three.
  • A good employee handbook will have your anti sexual harassment policy somewhere between pages three to five. And then I would recommend following that up with Anti Discrimination, and Hostile Work Environment.
  • A good employee handbook should also have a good Social Media Policy.
  • I know, you are getting tired of reading a good employee handbook should also have. Granted there is much more to all of this compliance business than there was when I started back in 1997. And you can trust me on this, I don't like it either. I am a big proponent of protecting employers rights. Most or at least many employers would do the right things without all of these laws and regulations. With that short break, let's get back to what goes into a good employee handbook.
  • If you are in California you want to make sure that you have the New California Paid Sick Leave Law clearly defined in your handbook. This would also include the method that you are going to have your employees use. Are you going to have your employees accrue the sick leave time or are you going to bank it, and give each employee 3 days at the beginning of the year.
  • Don't forget to include a policy that lets your employees know that they have no expectation of privacy. If you do not establish this policy it can cost you dearly should you happen to go through an employee's desk looking innocently for some keys or a paper and find something you wish you never had found. If that should happen, and you have not established the fact that employees have no expectation of privacy your hands are very much tied.

There are other policies that you should have but this will give you some food for thought. For the sake of time I am going to give you a list of some other things that you should have in place but I am not going to spend any time on them. Should you have any questions please put them in the comment section and I promise, I will answer them.

  1. Current State and Federal Postings
  2. Annual Sexual Harassment Training even if you have less than the 50 employee mandated for Management Training. Most good labor law attorneys will tell you that you should cover sexual harassment every year.
  3. Illness and Injury Prevention Program
  4. Heat Illness Prevention Program
  5. When it comes to the construction industry you need to have safety training done with all employees every ten days. Depending on the industry and the exposure that your employees face you should do monthly to quarterly safety training. I would strongly encourage you to document such training.

There are more issues but I wanted keep this short. I hope that you found this article both informative and helpful. Have a great day, and thank you for taking the time to read this.

  • My parting gift to you will be a very short compliance test. I would encourage you to be brave and take the test. You might say that was to easy, or you might say I did not know that.


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