AVOIDING WORKPLACE HELL « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


For Heaven’s Sake: Document, Document, Document!

Lawyers are in sales, they are not in management.  They don’t sell widgets to consumers of course.  Rather, competing attorneys each “sell” his/her client’s construction of events and actions to juries and judges, with the most plausible version of such occurrences the winner.

This firm defends employers daily on lawsuits for, you name it, (alleged) discrimination, (purported) retaliation, (supposed) harassment, (asserted) unpaid wages or overtime, and just about every other workplace accusation imaginable.  More common than not, management’s inappropriate or illegal behavior is not the source of such court battles. Rather, suits often generate and grow from company failures: i) to have and follow simple, written policy; and ii) to promptly and fairly document workplace misconduct and its resolution.

Pile on the clichés and maxims if you wish.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” isn’t bad. “If it isn’t written, it isn’t true” is better.

An employer which does not structure workplace production, organization and procedure around sound, sensible, easy-to-understand written policies is prone to finding itself sooner or later in the midst of an expensive court controversy.  If written policy does not exist or if it is not followed, if disruptive incidents and the fair addressing of them are not documented promptly and consistently, then that disgruntled, and perhaps disreputable, employee and his/her lawyer can easily invent practices and versions of events to fit their sales pitch.

Very few jurors are employers.  Almost all of them have been former employees at one time or another. At the end of a trial over alleged employee mistreatment, it will be these sworn-to-be-neutral citizens who will gauge whether employer or worker is telling the more credible story.  For a business, no written policy and no documentation in these circumstances are a recipe for very expensive disaster.

For the actions employers can take to avoid this nightmare scenario, including access to our workplace forms and model personnel handbooks, please visit us at our website.