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Employee Handbooks Can Be a Company’s Best Defense

March 11th, 2020

Your company’s employee handbook contains more than its mission statement, values, and general rules. It also contains information regarding specific policies and conduct that may prove your company’s best defense when faced with a lawsuit or other claim from an employee. These days, it is especially useful when an employee makes a claim of sexual harassment and that the employer did not follow proper procedures. If those procedures are in place, and you can show that they were followed in the given situation, your company has a much better chance of succeeding in any type of legal action.

Starting an Investigation

The employee handbook should state that an investigation of alleged sexual harassment will start as soon as the incident is reported. That means the company must launch an investigation right away.

More Than One Reporting Method

While the handbook must outline exactly how allegations of harassment or discrimination are reported, it is not sufficient to list only one method. For example, if a supervisor is who the worker is accusing of harassment or discrimination, it does them little good if their only option is to report the behavior to the perpetrator. The handbook must include a list of alternatives for promptly reporting such issues.

The same holds true if the worker finds themselves retaliated against for making the complaint, which is against federal law. If the person files a complaint and then their hours are cut, they are demoted, or even fired, that reflects poorly on a company and will harm their defense. On the other hand, if a person is accused of sexual harassment or other improper behavior, moving them to another department, demoting them, or termination are legitimate responses after an investigation, depending on the severity of the offense.

Regular Policy Reviews

While every employee should receive a copy of the employee handbook and sign for the receipt upon hiring, it is likely that most workers rarely peruse the document again. That is why it is vital to hold annual policy reviews so employees are reminded of company policies and procedures, along with any changes or updates. Employers must also make it clear that these policies are taken seriously and workers who do not adhere to them can expect consequences. Such consequences require carrying through for all involved, as the company cannot play favorites and allow one worker to get away with something for which another worker faces punishment.

Punishments for infractions, such as consistently arriving late to work or leaving early, should be spelled out clearly. The same holds true for drug use policies, especially as medical and recreational cannabis become legal in more states. As for sexual harassment policies, it is wise to present them in a separate document, so every worker understands the meaning and parameters of such behaviors.

Bucks County Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Help Clients with All Types of Employment Issues

If you have an employment concern regarding your business, contact the Bucks County employment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. We will review your case and protect your rights. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we represent employers throughout South Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, including Bucks County, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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