POLICIES / HANDBOOKS

Is there a reason not to limit smoking breaks?

04/23/2014
Q. Two of our employees go outside to smoke almost every hour for about 10 minutes. Our other employees are starting to complain. Do we have to allow these 10-minute rest periods every hour?

Leave off job application any language that limits time frames for employee to sue

04/23/2014
Don’t even think of including in your job application a shortened statute of limitations for resolving employment disputes.

Just having a policy isn't enough! Enforce your rules against harassment

04/23/2014
We’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again: Simply having a sexual harassment policy in your handbook won’t save you from a lawsuit. It’s all about what you do with that policy.

Honda issues social media guidelines for its employees

04/17/2014
Some companies encourage employees to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks to spread the word about their work. So Honda Motor Co., among others, has issued social media guidelines for employees, with a caution.

Still no handbook? Act fast after complaint

04/14/2014

Do you work in an HR department that still hasn’t gotten around to creating an employee handbook? Don’t despair. As long as everyone in HR and management makes sure employees know the company won’t tolerate sexual harassment and encourages immediate reporting of harassment, you can probably escape liability by acting fast on any reports you do receive.

EEOC issues new guidance on religious garb and grooming

04/08/2014
In an attempt to clarify employers’ rights and responsibilities under Title VII’s prohibition against religious discrimination, the EEOC has issued a new guidance document regarding religious clothing and grooming in the workplace.

Track worker receipt of electronic handbook

04/03/2014
Want an easy way to show that an employee acknowledged receiving a copy of your arbitration agreement? Include it in the employee handbook. Then have IT track when employees received it.

Never hesitate to make legit rule changes

03/17/2014
Have you found that some of your disciplinary rules are too lenient? Don’t hold back on stiffening your rules just because you fear the first employees subject to harsher penalties might sue you.

Handbook is key to misconduct discharge

03/17/2014

How your handbook reads is critical when you want to contest unemployment benefits for a former employee who was terminated for misconduct. Document that the em­­ployee received the handbook. Track any warnings that led up to the firing.

Do we have to tolerate 'Duck Dynasty religion' hat?

03/14/2014
Q. We let a female cashier at our restaurant wear a religious head covering, despite our policy against hats. Now, a male employee has started wearing a camouflage cap, claiming his religious idol is Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty.” He says his “religion” is sincere. Can we tell him to remove the cap?

What employers need to know about electronic signatures

03/13/2014

Can keystrokes carry the same legal weight as pen strokes? Each state has a slightly different law.

Rules of engagement: Fraternization policies

03/03/2014
Nearly one-fifth of married employees met their mates at work—so it’s a good bet that plenty of your organization’s workers are dating, flirting or at least friending each other on Facebook. Accept that, and then create a fraternization policy that lets employees know exactly what relationships are and are not acceptable. A good policy has four sections:

Make sure handbook includes rules on off-the-clock work, missed break time

02/26/2014
With strong policies, employees (and their lawyers) will find it much harder to mount class-action wage-and-hour lawsuits. That’s because employees have to show that a common policy or practice was responsible for wage-and-hour violations.

Noncompete agreements for new and existing employees

02/19/2014
Q. We recently merged with a smaller company, taking on several new sales people. Most of our existing sales staff are long-time, loyal employees, so we haven’t previously used noncompete agreements. However, we’re now reconsidering this. Can we ­require all of our sales staff to sign noncompetes?

How to handle confidential information when onboarding new hires

02/19/2014
Although most employers are sensitive to the need to protect their own company’s confidential information, they may not be as attuned as they should be to the other side of the coin. A recent trial experience provided an extraordinary lesson on the significant legal exposure an employer can face when hiring employees from a competitor.
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