A Company Policy Manual or Handbook Should Be Read And Understood
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) July 3, 2014 – When starting new employment, all documentation relating to company policies must be read and understood. Sometimes employee handbooks form the basis of a contract.
“Most new hires get a copy of the company handbook on, or prior to, the first day of work. You must read this material even though it might not make sense in the beginning. Knowing and understanding what is contained in the employee handbook is an asset that may pay off later if you have workplace issues pertaining to harassment or discrimination,” says respected Chicago employment attorney, Timothy Coffey. “If you do not read the fine print, you may miss the fact that the handbook creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, an employment contract.”
If a company handbook does create a contract situation, this benefits the employee, since it is likely to be interpreted by the courts as a promise and not a policy. “It is always wise to have an employment lawyer look over any documentation you receive upon being hired and check the wording relating to hiring, firing, disputes and other issues. For example, if you are terminated and your handbook says you will receive severance, rather than you may get paid out, courts tend to interpret that as a contract entitling you to compensation,” Coffey adds.
Handbooks also contain discipline policies that need to be clearly understood, as all workers should be subject to the same process if an issue arises. If the handbook states that workers may take three FMLA leaves a year without penalty and an employee was let go after one FMLA leave and penalized for taking it, that individual may have a case for wrongful termination based on illegal discrimination relating to race, gender, age, sexual orientation or other protected factors.
A wrongful termination lawsuit may also be considered if a handbook states there is a specific procedure followed prior to a worker being let go. If the policies outlined in the booklet are not strictly followed that may be grounds to file a complaint. “Read all material relating to company policies, as one day, they may or may not be applicable to you. Knowing the policies may work in your favor,” says Coffey.
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654
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