A little downtime provides good opportunity to revisit company policies and procedures



To put it mildly, the economic climate over the last few months has been unsettling. As have businesses across the country, we have been doing some “belt-tightening.”

I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such a steady stream of people walking through my door, looking for jobs. I’ve had to tell them that I have no openings. Employees aren’t leaving. The hiring process that usually takes up a good portion of my time I now find as free.

I have taken advantage of this windfall to comb through our policies and procedures and make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed. And, I did some research to ensure that we are in compliance with current laws and have in place all of the policies we should.

Combing policies

I concluded that we should have a policy statement regarding our compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and our willingness to engage in the interactive process with individuals requesting accommodation under the act.

We already have a blanket statement regarding discrimination, but I thought it prudent to spell out our position and get signatures from all involved individuals on acknowledgements so we could plug any holes that might appear in the hands of a plaintiff’s attorney. The fact that we may have informally accommodated a request by a dealer to sit during the shift could be forgotten without the documents memorializing the event. That could be the swaying factor in a complaint of failing to accommodate an employee.

I’m considering changes in our dress code. I asked all of our managers and directors for feedback. For instance, considering the prevalence of tattoos, should we continue to insist that no permanent artwork be visible on the employee while working? What about earrings for men? Nylons? I’m pretty sure we will still forbid employees from coming to work dressed in their pajamas – we had a young man report for his shift wearing those baggy, drawstring-tightened, wildly patterned pants that most people wear as PJs, and he objected strenuously to being sent home to change. His supervisor overrode him, and he came back in acceptable pants.

Our Electronic Devices Policy is being re-worded. Our attorney notified us of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Quon v. Arch Wireless Operating Co., Inc., and how it might affect us and our policy. There were confidentiality issues in this case, as well as to whom text messages belonged and to what information the employer could have access.

I read about a Florida Federal Court ruling that said employees may leave guns in cars while at work. The State of Florida had put into effect a “guns-at-work” law which was challenged. It is something of a conundrum that involves employees who have concealed weapons permits and the constitutional right to carry guns.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce said the law was preempted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. The bottom line, at this point in time, is that an employer in Florida can’t terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee simply because the individual possesses a firearm inside his or her locked, privately owned vehicle. I thought it was a sad statement about our society that we even have to try to establish such a law. When you have people who shoot each other because of employment decisions, I think there are some bigger issues.

The elastic truth

I got a couple of giggles from an article based on the results of a CareerBuilder.com survey. The survey was about information included on resumes –which we all know we should take with a grain of salt, so to speak.

When 8 percent of employees admit to “stretching the truth” on their resumes but 49 percent of hiring managers report they’ve caught applicants in lies, we have to be cautious. Some of the common “truth-stretching” includes embellishing responsibilities, dates employed, academic degrees and what companies were worked for. I’ve found some of those stretches on applications I’ve received.

Some of the stretchers were pretty outrageous, however. Someone said they were a member of THE Kennedy family. Another listed military experience dating back to before he was born. One invented a school that didn’t exist – I doubt that was the same one who claimed to be a member of Mensa – then again, perhaps it was.

I’m going on vacation the last of this month. I will allow my mind to vegetate for a week, and hopefully that will put my mind back on track and my next column won’t be so random.