Risk Management Services and Corporate Handbooks

Risk management is critical to the success and reputation of any company, regardless of the number of employees. From the perspective of a law firm, risk management involves having all important documents in order, maintaining enforceable employment agreements, and keeping employee handbooks up-to-date. DeBaltzo Law’s risk management services can help your business prevent and minimize employment disputes by:

  • Creating, reviewing, and revising employee handbooks.
  • Ensuring that all company policies and procedures reflect current laws.
  • Creating and annually updating employment agreements and other documents to protect customers and business assets.

The most common employee disputes arise over non-compete and non-disclosure agreements, disciplinary action, and termination.

Non-Compete & Non-Disclosure Agreements

These agreements prohibit employees from disclosing trade secrets or engaging in a business that competes with their employer. This protects information, technology, and intellectual property that the employer has created. It is essential that prohibited competition, lasting power, and jurisdiction are clearly defined. Doing so prevents past employees from finding loopholes and current employees from unknowingly violating the agreement.

DeBaltzo Law performs annual reviews of non-compete and non-disclosure agreements (and related documents) to ensure that they are both lawful and reasonable based on court-approved criteria:

  • There is a legitimate interest being protected by the non-compete agreement.
  • The geographic scope of the restriction will not limit a previous employee from finding other work and making a living.
  • The agreement is enforceable for a limited amount of time.
  • The employer provides the employee with additional compensation or benefits for agreeing to sign and uphold the agreement.

Disciplinary Action Procedures

The purpose of discipline in the workplace should be to stop unacceptable conduct, encourage cooperation between supervisors and subordinates, and retain employees as productive business members. Good disciplinary procedures clearly identify the consequences for violating each work rule and are equally enforced among all employees. An employee handbook should include a code of conduct that addresses policies on dress code, attendance, harassment, and discrimination.

Progressive discipline is often a successful method for correcting bad behavior in the workplace. Standardized procedures typically include (1) verbal warnings, (2) written warnings, (3) suspension, and (4) termination. The severity of punishment logically increases with each repeat offense. However, the employee deserves the opportunity to voice his or her side of the story and receive a fair hearing before disciplinary actions are taken. Not only does fair discipline create a safer, healthier workplace, it also protects the company against wrongful termination lawsuits.

DeBaltzo Law will help you tailor a discipline program and employee handbook to the unique needs of your business and determine the best method of maintaining and storing documentation of disciplinary actions. We will take all relevant factors into consideration, such as the size of your company, the type of work you perform, your clientele base, and the nature of employer-employee relationships.

Termination Policies

A company must handle termination of employment in a professional and discreet manner in order to avoid causing misunderstandings and generating distrust between the parties involved. Employee dismissal falls into two categories:

  • Voluntary dismissal– The employee resigns or retires, fails to show up for a specified number of days without notice (job abandonment), or their contract has either been completed or expired.
  • Involuntary dismissal– The employee is discharged with or without cause.

“For cause” dismissal occurs when the employee has committed misconduct worthy of termination as clearly specified in the employee handbook code of conduct. Some misconduct may merit immediate termination without disciplinary actions, such as:

  • Breaching employment contracts or agreements
  • Discrimination, harassment, or workplace violence
  • Unlawful behavior on the job (i.e., fraud, embezzlement, bribery, theft)
  • Intentional damage to company property
  • Substance abuse
  • Willful disregard for health and safety standards

Layoffs, department rearrangements, and position eliminations are examples of discharge without cause. In these cases, the company must provide adequate notice prior to the termination date. The company may also compensate the employee for unused vacation time and/or offer severance pay when applicable.

DeBaltzo Law will ensure that all of your company’s termination policies and actions are legal and properly documented. Our goal is not simply to prevent wrongful termination lawsuits but also to help your business uphold a dignified reputation and minimize disruption to your workplace.

Contact us today for expert risk management services and corporate handbooks to prevent and mitigate employee disputes.

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