Alexander Hamilton Institute

Most organizations create a dress code policy to ensure that employees come to work in appropriate, acceptable attire. But the way those business dress code policies are implemented can be the root of employee lawsuits, ranging from religious accommodation requests to different grooming standards for men and women.

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Substance abuse in the workplace costs employers billions of dollars annually in lost productivity, absenteeism and theft, as well as workers’ compensation, health insurance and medical costs. Here are employer guidelines for creating a workable substance abuse policy.

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“Out with the old, in with the new!” chant managers as they dispose of documents that have accumulated in their office throughout the previous year.  In their quest to have a clean, organized slate, they sometimes dispose of documents they shouldn’t.

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If managers had their way, most would not want to bother going through the formal performance appraisal process with each of their employees. Show them how to get positive results from their performance appraisal sessions by giving them formal training on conducting and documenting appraisals, and avoiding common appraisal traps.

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Office romances can not only have an adverse effect on workplace productivity, but can engender claims of favoritism, sexual harassment and retaliation. So employers should consider implementing a policy covering this topic. However, it is important to assess the pros and cons of strict workplace dating policies.

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Progressive discipline policies are not mandated by either state or federal employment laws. But legal issues often arise from the application of progressive discipline policies, including whether such policies can alter the employment-at-will status of employees; what happens when an employer promises progressive discipline but skips some of the outlined steps; and what employee discipline forms and checklists are necessary to maintain unbiased application of a progressive discipline program.

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Insubordination can result when difficult employees intentionally disregard a direct order from a manager, or inadvertently cross the discipline line when company policy is involved. Knowing how to handle employee insubordination can go a long way toward avoiding legal consequences when discipline or discharge is necessary. 

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Workplace investigations infiltrate every facet of employer activity, from allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination, to concerns over safety, violence, theft, and fraud. Conducting prompt, thorough workplace investigations followed by appropriate discipline will help insulate your company from potential legal liability.

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The ADEA protects employees age 40 and over from age discrimination in all aspects of employment. That means employers must be alert for signs of age discrimination in application processes, hiring and firing decisions, promotion and demotion assignments and all terms and conditions of employment, including the possibility of age harassment. 

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Promotion and demotion decisions are often subjective, so they leave employers open to charges of bias. To alleviate even the perception of discrimination when making promotion and demotion decisions, an employer should have sample letters and objective documentation, rules for dealing with unhappy employees and checklists for reducing the risk of bias in promotion and demotion decisions.

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