2016 is here. Perhaps you made individual resolutions for the New Year. A New Year’s resolution all employers should make is to review their policies and practices to ensure they are following the best practices to avoid employment litigation.
Some of the best practices to follow include the following:
1. Confirm that all written employment offers state that the employment relationship will be terminable at will.
2. Review and, if necessary, revise personnel manuals and employee handbooks to ensure that they comply with all applicable changes in the law.
3. Ensure that your employment application and personnel manual or employee handbook contain a disclaimer which states that the employment relationship is at will and that the document cannot be construed as a contract.
4. Instruct everyone who interviews potential employees not to promise “life long” or “permanent” employment, or make other similar promises of job security which might alter the employment at will relationship.
5. Conduct harassment training for all employees.
6. Train employees who interview potential employees on questions that are prohibited under state and federal law.
7. Review and, if necessary, revise job descriptions to ensure they list all essential job functions, including often overlooked mental capabilities such as concentrating, multitasking and communicating in a clear and persuasive fashion.
8. Review your exempt and nonexempt classifications to ensure compliance with wage and hour law, particularly in light of the changes in wage and hour law that are coming later this year. (For more on these changes see my December 2015 post).
9. Train supervisors on the company’s duty to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities, including how to respond when an employee claims that he or she cannot do the job because of a physical or mental impairment.
Employers who commit to a New Year’s resolution to follow these best practices will be taking steps to make 2016 a Happy New Year!