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HR Solutions

HR LAW Fundamentals - Understanding Chronicles - Part II



Defining them:


1.  They record general policies and practices, i.e., they record what personnel rules and guidelines should govern the operations of the workplace.  Supervisor's manuals, employee handbooks, bulletin board postings, collective bargaining agreements, and summary plan descriptions are common examples.


2   They record the dissemination of these written policies and practices.  Legally the existence of a general chronicle is insufficient.  You need to be able to prove that employees were on notice, and that means a separate record: of dissemination to the workforce.  The law generally does not require personal service, and in many instances employees need not have actually been given the document.  A bulletin board posting can suffice.


     However, chronicles of performance inadequacy must be brought to the attention of the employee involved.  A "Note to File" that bypasses the problem employee is itself inadequate.


3.  They collect information about employee performance, personal information, citizenship status and legal qualification to work, and all personnel activity involving this employee, from pre-hire to post-employment.


4.  They function as the raw materials for defense of any unemployment claim, discrimination charge, or other legal challenge or claim that you confront.



Quality Control in the creation of Chronicles


1.  As mentioned above a wide array of documentation, both general and employee-specific, is of little value if never published to employees.   


2.  You must also assure that your paperwork is checked for accuracy and proper form.  A manager who writes up a subordinate using inaccurate information, or that is written in a style that is too angry or bullying, is a problem manager.


3.   Inaccurate chronicles can become illegal if sent to individuals within the organization that have no genuine reason to receive them.  Earlier this year the Seventh Circuit decided that an in-house lawyer was properly entitled to a jury award against a company and its managers for creating and circulating libelous personnel memos.  CNA Financial and Tefft v. Popko.