You have a company handbook that you give to all of your new employees. It lays out specific rules and regulations in the workplace. For instance, it may tell workers that they will get two warnings before being fired unless there are exceptional circumstances.
However, you’re not legally required to give employees a warning at all. Is this handbook legally binding, or can you break your own regulations because the law doesn’t mean that you need to follow them?
You must abide by the rules you created
While it is true that at-will employment laws mean you don’t have to warn employees before firing them, you typically do have to follow any rules that you have created and given to the employees. In a case like this, the employees may not have contracts, but they still expect certain types of conduct. You are obligated, as an employer, to follow those codes of conduct. If you fail to do so, that could still qualify as wrongful termination, even though you didn’t break any of the at-will employment laws.
That’s why it’s so important to carefully consider everything that you put in an employee handbook or any other type of documentation. These are not just suggestions. You are bound to abide by them if you’ve told employees that you will and they have taken their jobs under those conditions and with those expectations.
If you do find yourself in a situation where your company is being accused of wrongful termination, the ramifications are very serious and it’s important that you understand all of the legal options at your disposal.