Gordon Law

A manual for your employee manual

Do you have an employee manual? Do you need one? Let me start to answer that question by stating that if you have an employee manual, you need to abide by it. It is by far preferable to have nothing than to have a manual that you neglect to follow. In the event there are provisions you do not follow and have a disgruntled employee, I can assure you your greatest liability will be those policies and procedures that you are not following.

Therefore, if you have an employee manual that is outdated or not properly used, I strongly advise you to either revise it or scrap it. Please contact Gordon Law to assist you with either of these paths.

Now, assuming you are going to have an employee manual that you are going to duly follow, what should be in it? In part, that depends on the number of your employees. Generally, federal requirements for employees — think non-discrimination requirements mandated by the EEOC — do not apply if you have fewer than fifteen employees. If you have fewer than fifteen employees, Gordon Law suggests that the federally mandated language be excluded. If you have, or expect to have, more than fifteen employees, then you should include language indicating that your business does not discriminate based upon any protected class: age, sex, race, national origin, sexual identification, disability, etc.

Beyond the legal language, your employee handbook should contain an overview of the expectations of your employees. For example, if there is a disciplinary process, it should be articulated. If there are benefits provided, they should be explained in terms of eligibility as well as access.

Importantly, you should include language that reflects what the employee(s) can do if there are questions or concerns. To whom do they raise those concerns? His or her immediate supervisor?  A human resources director?  The owner(s)?

Nevada law and federal law have undergone several significant changes. Nevada law, for example, allows for the use of medical (and now recreational) marijuana. Have you addressed drugs and alcohol in your employee manual? Federal law, for instance, has recently changed in its protection of transgender employees as well as additional protections against discrimination based upon national origin. Does your employee manual properly address issues concerning bathrooms and other facilities?

Finally, and perhaps most importantly in Nevada, which is a right-to-work state, you must include language that clearly explains to your employees that nothing within the employee manual creates an employment agreement or any other legal characterization beyond “at-will” employment.

Gordon Law is here to review your existing employee manual or help you to draft a new one.

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