Spring Cleaning: Get Your Employee Handbook Legally Compliant

Spring is in the air.  For many of us that means Spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning for all employers should include a review of the current Employee Handbook. The review should focus on whether the current version of the Handbook complies with the law and adequately meets the needs of your business.

Make sure the Handbook does not promise more than what the law requires unless you intend to keep that promise. The recent case of Marini v. Costco (U.S. District Court of Conn.) illustrates why committing in a Handbook to do more than what the law requires might result in you having to keep that commitment.

In Marini  the company’s sexual harassment policy did more than what the law requires.  For example, the policy said the company would take appropriate corrective action, regardless of whether the conduct violated the law.  Because of this and other language in the harassment policy, the Court denied the company’s motion for summary judgment on the employee’s breach of contract claim.

Similarly, in Tilley v. Kalamazoo County Road Commission (6th Cir. 2015) the employer’s FMLA policy said that employees were eligible for FMLA leave if they had “accumulated 1250 work hours in the previous 12 months.”  The policy did not mention the FMLA requirement that the employer must also employ 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the work location of the employee requesting leave for that employee to be eligible.  As a result the Court in Tilley held that the employee was entitled to FMLA leave.

Take the time to review your Employee Handbook to insure that it complies with the law and is consistent with your intent.  You will reap the benefits from this Spring cleaning for many seasons to come.

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