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Policies / Handbooks

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?

Electronic signatures: What HR professionals need to know

03/13/2014

For centuries, a signature at the bottom of a piece of paper has meant someone agrees with what the document says. But now many of our documents are made of electrons instead of wood pulp.
Can keystrokes carry the same legal weight as strokes of the pen?

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.

Ski resort curbs ‘mountain chic’ by setting strict dress code

02/19/2014

Skiers and snowboarders often are known for outlandish body piercings, tattoos and hairstyles—but not if they work for Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort in California. The resort’s “look good, feel good” dress code starts by outfitting each employee with a uniform that’s the envy of the trendiest skiers on the mountain.

Employee Handbooks: Overview

02/10/2014

HR Law 101: Employee handbooks are extremely valuable business tools. But if you’re not careful, your handbook could land you in court. In particular, employees are increasingly suing for wrongful discharge, pointing to a handbook they claim guaranteed them employment indefinitely …