Can employee handbooks help prevent wrongful termination?

Can employee handbooks help prevent wrongful termination?

| Apr 16, 2020 | Firm News |

At some point when a workplace hires you, you might receive a small booklet known as an employee handbook. This piece of literature is something you want to pay close attention to, not only because it lays out important policies you need to know for your job, but it might also prevent your employer from wrongfully terminating you. 

The state of California permits its employers to hire its workers at-will, meaning they may fire you without notice, provided they do not violate civil rights laws in doing so. However, California employers may waive the at-will privilege by defining their employment conditions in a written form. Commonly, employers do this in contracts, but employee handbooks may describe employment conditions as well. 

The basics of employee handbooks 

According to Chron, an employee handbook contains information about the operating procedures of a workplace. You might receive one on the first day of your employment. A handbook describes workplace policies, such as how employees are to behave. Employee handbooks also establish and protect the rights of workers. You would also likely find legal information such as policies against workplace harassment and equal opportunity policies for workers. 

Handbooks and wrongful termination 

Employee handbooks may define how and why an employer may fire you, including behavioral standards and procedures to discipline a worker. Employers who fire workers for not adhering to company policy as stated in a handbook likely have firm legal grounds to do so. However, in the event an employer steps outside of handbook guidelines while firing you, you might have a claim of wrongful termination. 

A workplace might also wrongly fire somebody by not applying the handbook standards on a consistent basis, like disciplining you more severely than other workers who commit the same actions. Additionally, an employer might compose a handbook with unclear provisions. You should be able to understand what a workplace asks of you and not lose your job because a handbook was not clear in what it said.