By Linda H. Evans,
This has been a busy year in the labor and employment law arena. And it is a good time to be sure your employee handbook is changing with the times! Here are a few areas that may need revising in your handbook:
Social Media Policy: Social networking sites have become the modern day office water cooler. Employees feel free to interact on the sites and express opinions about the company, co-workers and managers. Employers may be tempted to try to curb the use of social media by employees, but that could lead to an unintended violation of employees’ rights. The NLRB has been very active in this area and blanket prohibitions have gotten employers into big trouble!
Sexual Orientation Discrimination: This is not yet a protected category under federal law, but nearly half the states already have such laws on the books. There is a rumor on the street that the EEOC may address this soon, so stay tuned!
Adverse Weather/Business Closures: With bad weather becoming a common disaster, companies need a comprehensive adverse weather policy which addresses several issues. This would include things like how closing the business during adverse weather impacts pay deductions, what about employees who are on FMLA during business closures and eligibility for unemployment compensation due to a weather-related business closure. We’re in the middle of hurricane season, so now is the time to check your policies!
Criminal History: The EEOC recently issued a warning that in some cases using an individual’s criminal history can violate Title VII. This is based on the potential to have a disparate impact on minorities. If all forms of criminal history…no matter the timeframe or the relevance to the job…can keep an applicant from being hired, the policy may be too broad and lead to problems for the employer. One size does not fit all!
Let us know if you have questions on updating your policies.