Why Employers Should Avoid One-Size-Fits-All Handbooks

Every business is different and has different workplace issues and concerns that need to be addressed by the employee handbook. Because each workplace is so different, employee handbooks should be specifically tailored to address specific workplace concerns and issues, and also take into account federal, state, and local laws that govern that particular workplace. Application of laws and regulations typically depend on a couple of things including the location of the employer, the location of the employees, and the number of employees and the type of industry. For example, on the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to workplaces with 15 or more employees. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to workplaces with 20 or more employees. State laws are also triggered in the same manner and many states have specific laws that provide additional employee protections or, in some cases, provide additional employer defenses. Similarly, some city/municipality laws apply to employers located within those jurisdictions. In regards to state laws, for Michigan employers, the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (the “Act”) allows for a statutory defense to failure to accommodate claims, but only if specific language is included in the employer’s handbook or posted. This is something completely different than the ADA and is specific to Michigan employers. What...

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