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Arlington Heights business law attorneysOne of the best ways to legally protect your business as well as yourself as a business owner is to have a comprehensive employee handbook. Developing a list of employee policies, procedures, rules, and regulations should be at the top of your priorities if you own a business and have not already done so. An employee handbook allows your employees to know exactly what you expect of them and also helps protect you from liabilities. If you are in the process of drafting a handbook or list of company rules, experts suggest the following tips.

Avoid Adding Superfluous or Unfounded Rules

Employees are like anyone else. Understanding why a rule exists provides motivation to follow the rule. If you are going to include a certain rule in your handbook, make sure you have a good reason for doing so. Including rules with no real purpose other than for “discipline” in your handbook can break down employee morale. Rules which are not really necessary or do not have a defined purpose are rarely enforced. This can diminish your authority and credibility as an employer and business owner.

Keep It Concise and Easily Understandable

Make sure your employee handbook does not look more like an employment contract than a reference. Using overly wordy language and legalese will not encourage anyone to read your handbook. Employees need to know what is expected of them as well as what behavior is not acceptable at work in language they can understand. Handbooks, unlike other business documents, can be written in a casual, conversational tone. Referring to yourself and management as “we,” can add a friendly attitude to the handbook and help your employees feel included. Make sure your handbook also promotes the work perks and benefits employees can enjoy.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneysRecently, employees at the fast food company McDonald’s voiced their concerns regarding sexual harassment by protesting outside restaurants across the country. The employees, both men and women, held signs that said things like “#MeToo” and “Keep your hands off my thighs.” McDonald’s employees participating in the strike claim that too many incidents of sexual harassment have been overlooked or flat-out ignored. It is a problem that many experts say plagues fast food chains. For business owners, the protests are a profound reminder of the importance of creating effective sexual harassment procedures and policy.  

McDonald’s Employees File Complaints Over Unwelcome Advances

Complaints made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by McDonald’s employees allege that some supervisors have not only made sexual advances toward subordinates, but also retaliated against those who reported or criticized the harassment. Many employees say they were scared to speak up about harassment they witnessed or experienced themselves for fear of having their work hours cut or being fired. The Civil Rights Act of 1965—the primary federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination such as sexual harassment—not only protects employees from sexual harassment at work, but also guards against employer retaliation. Various federal and local laws establish the rights of “whistleblowers,” or people who file complaints about discrimination or unsafe workplaces.

Fast Food Employees May Be Especially Susceptible to Sexual Harassment

It is no secret that fast food companies often hire younger or less experienced employees. Many people’s first job is working at a restaurant such as McDonald’s. Naïve employees or those with little work experience may be unaware of their rights with regard to sexual harassment and are taken advantage of as a result. Fast food workers living paycheck to paycheck may be afraid to risk losing their only source of income by standing up against harassment.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyWhile most businesses have anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies in place, many still face harassment or discrimination lawsuits because they fail to enforce those policies. More often than not, these are for repeat incidents that have, for one reason or another, gone unresolved. However, a recent report from the Bureau of National Affairs suggests that there are more single incident cases today than there were just mere years ago, and that can mean serious trouble for employers who fall short in providing a safe workplace environment for all.

The Increase in Single Incident Cases

As the notion and importance of equality becomes more widespread, and as judges and juries become more sympathetic to the effects of workplace harassment, more and more are ruling “extremely serious” or “severe” single incidents as viable unlawful harassment cases. Under federal law, this places the employer on the hook for liability, and they may become responsible for damages considered due.

Even cases that are ultimately dismissed have their negative effects on a business. Because they often remain as pending cases longer than the used to, harassment and discrimination lawsuits can drastically impact on employee morale and productivity, and may even cause long-lasting damage to a company’s reputation. Litigation costs associated with discrimination or harassment claims may also prove to be costly, especially if the claim survives past summary judgement. All in all, it is a situation that every employer should try and avoid, if and whenever possible.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneysWhen you own a business with one or two employees, you probably know your employees well and trust them to generally do what is best for your business. As your business grows and more employees are needed, it becomes increasingly important for you to develop a list of rules, regulations, and policies for your workers. Not only should your employees know your expectations regarding performance and behavior but creating a codified list can help protect you from certain liabilities. One of the most common ways to publish such rules and policies is in an employee handbook.

In developing an employee handbook, experts recommend that you:

Be reasonable with your rules.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyMost people agree that taking an occasional vacation from work is good for your stress levels and mental health. Hardworking employees need time off to recharge once in a while. However, a new study shows that employees in at least two major cities are working more than ever without taking paid time off. In fact, approximately 64 percent of employees in the area said they do not choose to use their paid time off. This leaves a whopping 12.8 million unused days.

Employees Avoid Taking Time Off for Several Reasons

This information comes from a study conducted by Project Time Off, an organization that promotes leisure, travel, and relaxation. Researchers found that San Francisco and Oakland are the second most overworked cities in the country. Only Washington D.C employees work more days a year. The study surveyed over 7,000 working Americans about their work habits and vacation days.

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Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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