Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Cleaning for Hospitality Employers Part 1

This is the time of year when most people review their assets and insurance elections, clean our their closets and attics and discard unnecessary belongings.  In the spirit of spring cleaning, it is also a good time for hospitality employers to review their policies and procedures to ensure they do not run afoul of ever-changing employment laws. This blog article will be the first of several parts to provide tips and suggestions for this important project.

For a good place to start, dust off the employee handbook, personnel manual, or whatever you have that advises employees of the company's policies and procedures, read it from cover to cover, and ask yourself these questions:
  1. Does it contain an at-will employment disclaimer?  If so, does it comply with the recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding appropriate language?
  2. Does it contain any type of confidentiality or other provision that prohibits employees from discussing salaries?  
  3. If your company is subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), is your policy updated to reflect the newest regulations?
  4. If your company is subject to the FMLA, is it using the FMLA forms expressly blessed by the United States Department of Labor?
  5. Does it address lactation breaks and a private place for new mothers to express breast milk?
  6. Does it contain a social media policy?  If so, is it NLRB compliant?
  7. Does it address all types of prohibited harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, or does it only address sex harassment? 
  8. Does it advise employees of the company's tip credit policy?
  9. Does it prohibit unauthorized overtime?
  10. Does it prohibit all weapons on company property?  If so, does it violate Texas' "Guns in the Parking Lot" law?  
  11. Does it include a reasonable accommodation policy that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended? 
  12. Does it address severance pay, pay for unused vacation, and payment upon termination or resignation?
  13. Does it contain a code of conduct?  If so, is it narrowly tailored to comply with the NLRB's recent rulings?
  14. Does it include, or reference, a payroll deduction authorization form?
  15. Does it require employees to pay for uniforms?  
  16. If the company has a drug testing policy, does it include a prohibition against synthetic drugs?
  17. If the company has a no-smoking policy, does it address vapor cigarettes?
  18. Does it prohibit the hiring or promotion of employees based on felony convictions or arrest records?  
  19. Does it address exempt versus non-exempt employees?
  20. Does it contain a handbook acknowledgment form, a signed copy of which is maintained by the employer?
Based on your answers to this initial set of questions, you may find that the company's policies and procedures are non-existent, outdated or even unlawful.  If you are unsure why all of the answers to these questions matter, consult counsel.