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Is a Company’s Best Defense the Employee Handbook?

Every business that maintains an office and team of employees exposes itself to the risk of harassment lawsuits, discrimination claims, and much more. When these claims do arise in the employment context, one of the most important pieces of evidence will be the employee handbook, should one exist. Even if a handbook already exists, they can quickly become outdated based on evolving law.

The employee handbook should be part of every employee’s onboarding process. New hires should be instructed to read the handbook and sign a document stating they have read and understand everything contained therein. Management should answer questions about handbook policies, but the handbook will speak for itself if there is a concern in the office.

How Does an Employee Handbook Handle Investigations?

The employee handbook should list every policy the company has from sick leave to office parties, travel expenses, and lunch breaks. In addition, a large portion of the handbook should explain what happens if misconduct is reported in the office. The handbook should explain that all incidents of harassment should be reported to an immediate supervisor and include that all reports are investigated regardless of merit.

Supervisors should have a handbook that tells them how to open an investigation, investigate claims, and/or report the claims to human resources. The company should investigate any claims of harassment, collect evidence, conduct interviews, and reach a well-documented conclusion.

Why Does it Matter?

If a company is sued by an employee who experienced harassment, management can point to the employee handbook since the company has laid out all the guidelines it uses to manage these cases. Employees who were terminated because of harassment claims should know they will be investigated and employees who do not report harassment are technically in violation of company policy. Management and employees must refer to the handbook for guidance. If a company does not have an established policy for workplace harassment, it can be sued easily because its employees do not know what to do if harassment occurs.

If management is not certain how to word the employee handbook, they may want a Philadelphia employment lawyer to review the document on their behalf. The company may also want the lawyer to craft a verification document that all employees must sign after reviewing any policies, such as a separate sexual harassment policy, fiduciary duties policy, and/or a drug use policy.

To be safe, management should review these documents every year with their staff. The company’s diligence ensures that employees know what is expected of them, and management can point to employees’ yearly reviews if a complaint is filed.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Navigate Issues Related To Employee Handbooks For Both Employers And Employees

If you would like to find out more about employee handbooks or have a potential lawsuit against your employer involving an employee handbook, reach out to our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call 215-574-0600 for assistance. We will review your case and discuss the next potential steps. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.