Protecting Employers Since 1985

Slash All Unnecessary Promises In Your Employee Handbook!

Disciplinary Procedures: Be sure that the disciplinary procedures are described as mere guidelines and that appropriate discipline depends, of course, on the particular facts and circumstances of any particular disciplinary case (and that the employer retains the right to use its discretion on a case-by-case basis as to any disciplinary issues).

State that any list of punishable offenses that might merit discipline and/or discharge is not an all-inclusive list, and that the company reserves the absolute right to discipline for offenses not listed in the handbook. Sample language follows:

The above list is intended for general guidance of the employee and, of course, is not meant to be exhaustive. It covers only typical cases, which can result in disciplinary action ranging from verbal warnings to discharge at the discretion of the Company. It is important to note that disciplinary action is not to be construed as limited by or restricted to only the specific instances listed above.

Do not limit the company’s right to discharge for any reason. A non-union company should avoid putting in the employee handbook phrases such as “good cause,” “good faith,” or “just cause” because these would be limitations on the company’s legal right to discharge as the company deems appropriate.

CONCLUSION: If you are fortunate enough to enjoy a non-union work environment, cherish the flexibility that you have as a non-union employer. Do not erode that flexibility with unnecessary promises!

For assistance with employee handbooks, contact Attorney Nancy E. Joerg who can be reached at Wessels Sherman’s St. Charles, Illinois office: 630-377-1554 or email her at

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