One of the fastest-growing areas of litigation is employment-related claims. Lawsuits for sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and disability discrimination are becoming commonplace for businesses, of all sizes.
While a well-crafted employee handbook that’s closely followed by managers and supervisors doesn’t prevent an employee or a former employee from filing a discrimination lawsuit, it goes a long way toward minimizing your liability.
Why Employee Handbooks are Protection for Your Business
If you have even one discrimination lawsuit filed against your business, it can cost thousands and thousands of dollars for you to defend your business. These expenses include, among other things, your defense costs, settlement, or jury or awards. There is also a significant impact on your business operations as your workforce will be distracted by the litigation, which tends to cause internal upheaval in your employee morale. The lawsuit can also damage your reputation in the community.
Having an up-to-date employee handbook is your first line of defense against these types of lawsuits. When you have clearly and concisely outlined all employee policies, it will help employees feel as though they are being treated fairly, and it will reduce your risk of lawsuits. If an employee still files a lawsuit against your business, the handbook will provide valuable documentation that demonstrates you had compliant and equitable policies in place at your workplace.
Employee handbooks are also beneficial to both your business and new employees as it sets the expectations for those employees new to your company. Consistency is the most important factor when you want to enforce policies in your workplace. All employees, both new and old, need to understand the policies and guidelines outlined in your handbook.
The employee handbook makes it is easier for you as a business owner to assure equality in your expectations and treatment when you have to communicate standards and rules of conduct uniformly. This handbook plays a crucial role and allows you to establish company-wide policies in your operations. It takes away the role of supervisors and managers from creating their own piece-meal policies for your employees.
What Should You Include in Employee Handbooks to Minimize Liability
If you want to minimize liability and the chance of lawsuits being filed against your business, you need an employee handbook that outlines your policies and your basic goals for all employees. You want a document that is thorough, but not too voluminous such that it becomes difficult to read and understand. A well-written handbook for your employees should contain some of these policies:
- How leaves and benefits will be earned and dispersed
- Zero tolerance for sexual harassment (or other actionable harassment of discrimination
- Non-retaliation for good faith reporting of harassment/discrimination
- How to report harassment/discrimination
- How the Company will handle complaints of harassment/discrimination
- Your hiring, termination, and discipline policies
- What is expected in employee behaviors and conduct
- Your compensation and timekeeping policies
- What your expectations are for workplace health and safety
- Any other policies that will be specific to your business’s mission, goals, and values
When you generate your employee handbook, talk to a Human Resource professional or the employment law experts at Danz Law to make sure your document complies with all local, Florida, and federal employment and labor laws.
Once you have a well-crafted employee handbook in place, review it regularly and ensure all new hires are provided with one. Make determinations throughout the year if there are new internal policies that need to be deleted or updated to the document, and have it rechecked by Danz Law to ensure it remains within legal compliance.
Where to Learn More About Employee Handbooks and How to Minimize Employee Litigation
Danz Law represents employers in employment litigation cases both in state and federal courts. Even in the best of workplace environments, conflicts will inevitably arise between employers and their employees.
If you want to minimize your risk of ending up in litigation with employees, contact our office to create an employee handbook that will outline your expectations and reduce your risk of lawsuits.