One of the annual goals of every good CEO, manager or supervisor should be to reduce the company's exposure to employment litigation.
Executive Summary: One of the annual goals of every good CEO, manager or supervisor should be to reduce the company's exposure to employment litigation. The cost of state or federal litigation keeps going up, and just one employee lawsuit can make a sizeable dent in any company's fiscal budget. Here are some suggested resolutions for 2015:
- Resolve to instruct every person who might be interviewing a prospective employee not to promise "job security," a "long and successful career," or "steady," "lifelong" or "permanent" employment.
- Resolve that, if an employment offer is made in writing, you will leave yourself the discretion to terminate the employment at will, or upon short notice, or for reasons acceptable to management.
- Resolve to review, and revise as necessary, all personnel manuals, application forms, employee handbooks and notices to employees to ensure that these documents cannot be read, in isolation or together, as a contract.
Resolve to place conspicuous disclaimers on employee application forms and in the employee handbook. The disclaimer should confirm the employment-at-will status of all employees and state that it is not to be construed as a contract of employment.
Resolve to train those individuals who will be recruiting and interviewing applicants for positions with the company regarding the questions or inquiries that are considered "prohibited" by state or federal discrimination agencies.
Resolve to adopt and maintain a formal system of progressive discipline that will ensure that supervisors treat similarly-situated employees alike.
- Resolve to adopt and follow a job‑bidding procedure that mandates posting of available positions to handle promotions and transfers to open positions.
- Resolve to adopt and maintain an effective employee complaint procedure or problem-solving procedure that ensures a thorough investigation.
- Resolve to review the company's harassment policy to ensure that it prohibits all forms of illegal harassment. Make certain that the prohibition against sexual harassment is applicable to situations involving individuals of the same gender.
- Resolve to provide supervisors with training on the company's harassment policy.
Resolve to adopt a strongly worded "non-aggression" policy that states the company's determination to keep the workplace free of aggressive, abusive or violent behavior.
Resolve to draft or revise job descriptions to list all job functions that are essential to the position.
- Resolve to train supervisors so that they understand the duty to accommodate employees with disabilities and what that duty entails.
- Resolve to audit the company's exempt/nonexempt classifications for wage-hour purposes and eliminate any payroll practice that reduces an exempt employee's weekly salary for absences that are less than a day in duration.
- Resolve to adopt procedures that keep all personnel matters confidential, particularly discipline or discharge decisions.
- Resolve to adopt procedures that ensure that only a "neutral reference" is provided to other employers; that is, verifying only dates of employment, position and salary.
Resolve to review and update company policies dealing with electronic communications in the workplace and cell phone and internet usage.
- If you are a non-union employer, resolve to use new employee orientation and language in the employee handbook to clearly communicate your position on the benefits of a non-union workplace.
- Resolve to create a workplace that fosters communication with employees and their participation in the operation of the company.
- Resolve to survey wages and benefits provided by other employers in your industry to ensure that compensation provided to your employees allows you to recruit and retain the best candidates for positions within the company.
Finally, after completing all the foregoing resolutions — allow yourself time to unwind and relax. Make sure that you use any vacation time that you have coming to you.
If you need more information about any of the foregoing resolutions, please contact the author of this article, Paul M. Lusky, firstname.lastname@example.org, who is an attorney in FordHarrison's Baltimore office. Of course, you may also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.