Mismatched socks won't get you sued, but mismatched policies will.
When you were a kid you probably put together some eye-popping ensembles
that, depending on the kind of mom she was, caused your parent to
either roll her eyes or send you straight back upstairs to change your
clothes. I have never been one for mixing plaid and polk-a-dots, but I
was known for an entertaining clash of colors in many of my childhood
outfits. While a truly awful outfit might get you five minutes of
YouTube fame, it won't normally get you sued. Mismatched policies are
never charming, creative or cute, and they will get you sued.
In the employment world consistency with a certain amount of built-in
flexibility is critical to minimizing litigation risk when dealing with
employees. With the multiple ports of information that we have
regarding how our policies are distributed, evaluated or trained on, we
need to be very careful that policies match in all these various venues.
If your intranet posted policy doesn't match perfectly with what you
post on your website which then doesn't match what you post next to the
time clock, which doesn't match the binder in your supervisor's office,
you create enormous litigation risks. When policies are reviewed or
changed if you don't clawback all of the various policies that now need
to be updated you leave a potentially damaging document in the public
arena. This is particularly problematic for employers who have
multiple physical sites where policies may be posted or living in dusty
binders that are only unearthed at the time of litigation.
Basic suggestions for managing this problem are to keep and maintain an
updated list of where policies are distributed and how that
distribution occurs. Issue with new policies a statement that they have
replaced the old policies and that old policies are to be destroyed.
Provide appropriate disclaimers in your handbooks, policy manuals and
other points of dissemination for employee information. You may also
want to copyright manuals and similar items to limit re-dissemination.
Now is a good opportunity to evaluate your process given all the focus
on rules and rule posting with the NLRB's efforts to mandate new
postings and concurrent litigation.