As a business owner, you are likely familiar with the various ways in which an employer could face liability from potential, current or former employees. Fortunately, with the help of a Ft. Lauderdale employment lawyer, there are a number of ways to help minimize the risks of a lawsuit and insulate against the financial impact of employment-related litigation.
One such way, regardless of the industry, is to design and implement a comprehensive employment policy manual outlining the various protocols and procedures involved in the management of the business, which will help greatly reduce confusion and inconsistencies in the event of a conflict.
Your Policy Manual: What is Included?
The best way to design an employment policy manual is to consider the various ways in which a conflict can arise. Of course, employment discrimination claims are a major concern and can bring about unwanted negative publicity and exposure. Accordingly, a manual should contain a streamlined, well-developed hiring and firing protocol that takes into account the necessary steps for each.
For example, all events leading up to termination should be carefully documented and kept in the employee's personnel file. This way, if a disgruntled ex-employee were to make a discrimination claim, the valid reasons for his or her termination will be readily available for review.
From there, a number of employment-related matters should be addressed, including the following:
- Mention of major employment laws, including the Florida Civil Rights Act, ADA, FLSA, and Equal Employment Opportunities Act
- Code of Ethics
- Compensation, rates of pay, overtime calculations and wage dispute protocols
- Insurance and benefits
- Attendance and leave policies
- Appearance & dress code
- Employee relations
Aside from the areas listed above, the employee manual should offer any industry-specific guidelines that may help alleviate exposure to liability. For instance, if a business conducts significant local or interstate travel, the various protocols associated with this corporate component should be addressed. Likewise, employers should consider wide-ranging internet, email and social media policies with staff members, as these issues are becoming increasingly problematic.
How a Manual Can Help
In some situations, litigation is simply unavoidable - no matter how hard an employer attempts to resolve the matter via mediation. With litigation, of course, comes the inevitable discovery period - a time in which the other party may gather documents and information for possible use at a later trial. It is at this stage that the production of an employment manual - along with the employee's personnel file - can not only show a pattern of lawful, fair treatment, but a well-documented objective series of procedures that are even-handedly applied to all employees.
Absent the existence of an employment manual, former employees may easily resort to the argument that they were treated unfairly or in a discriminatory manner - and the employer will have very little documentation to support its claim of fair and equal treatment.
Call an Experienced Employment Attorney as Soon as Possible!
If you are interested in discussing ways to avoid unnecessary exposure to costly liability and financial risk, contact Michael L. Feinstein today: 954-767-9662.