Employee Handbooks & Other Policies

Comprehensive employee handbooks and written policy manuals have many benefits, including providing consistent information to employees on employer policies, benefits, procedures and expectations. However, if a handbook is not specifically tailored to the employer, it can create more problems than it solves, and in certain circumstances, can expose an employer to liability.

A written handbook or policy manual is a key tool in helping an employer avoid violating the labyrinth of federal and state employment laws. These documents not only provide procedures to deal with all of these laws, but a uniform way for doing so. In some instances, having and following proper procedures in response to an employee issue can limit an employer’s liability.

These documents can also bind the employer under a theory of implied contract. As such, handbooks and manuals should be drafted to meet the needs and expectations of the specific employer and reviewed by an attorney to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Social Media Policies

Employees are often de facto representatives of the employer. Technology has also allowed employees to communicate with an ever increasing audience. While modes of social media are changing, the principles that apply to an employee’s conduct, whether professional or personal, are the same. An employer’s policies and expectations regarding employee conduct should place its employees on notice of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable regardless of the mode or size of the audience. Employers must be cautious that they do not violate employees’ rights with overly restrictive social media policies.


Having a third-party train a company’s employees on its policies may have positive effects on its work environment and reduce exposure to complaints of harassment and discrimination.

Training sessions can educate employees as to company policies and rules and the safeguards instituted by the company to address issues such as harassment and discrimination. This training can later be used as evidence of an employer’s affirmative acts to prevent or address employee misconduct.

Employee Privacy Issues

Employee information is protected by a host of laws that govern its maintenance and disclosure. This information can relate but is not limited to personal data, credit reports, health and disability issues, drug testing, criminal offender information, email and other communications and performance evaluations.

Violations of these laws and regulations may result in an employer being exposed to litigation, as well as civil liability to the employee.

State and Federal Employee Privacy Laws and Regulations

Drug & Alcohol Testing

Employers may conduct drug testing of its employees, but the ability to do so are limited based on the nature of the employee’s business and the nature of the employee’s duties. Testing must be random unless based on a set policy or in response to an event such as an accident.

Employers who are found to violate these guidelines may be liable to the employee based on unlawful invasion of privacy or wrongful termination.

State and Federal Employee Privacy Laws and Regulations

Violence in the Workplace

Violence in the workplace, including threats of violence, can be a serious threat to the health, safety and morale of the employees. It is important for employers to have strong anti-violence policies in place and to practice a no tolerance approach to violence or threats of violence. It is also good practice to have a plan in place to address and respond to threats or violence.