Employment Posters Guide

Download the 2018 employment posters required by State and Federal law for free.

« New I-9 Form | Main | Rehiring Former Employees »

If It’s Not in Writing ... It Did Not Happen

iStock_000003933125XSmall.jpgThe question in any legal proceeding is how do you prove your side of the story? Sure, you can introduce testimony about what you said and what others said, what others did and what others failed to do. But what do you do when others remember something different or they outright lie? How do you protect yourself?

This is an important question because judges and juries appear to hold businesses to a higher standard. They will believe unsubstantiated, oral testimony of employees and consumers. They will even believe statements that at times defy reason. But they seem to hold business people to a higher standard. Oral testimony is not good enough. They want it in writing.

This issue came up again in connection with last week’s LegalBriefs. That issue dealt with the terms of employment when a former employee is rehired. The LegalBriefs addressed the importance of setting out the new terms of employment, particularly as to whether the prior years of service count toward current benefits, in writing.

The client told me “Oh, we tell them orally at the time of the interview.”

My reply was, “if it’s not in writing, it did not happen.”

The same is true for you. With employees, customers, vendors, business partners, even volunteer boards, if it’s not in writing, it did not happen.

Prior issues of LegalBriefs have discussed a number of ways to document business events and document your expectations. We have talked about the power of the supervisor’s log for documenting things that occur every day. We have talked about using CYA letters or emails that look like thank-you notes. We have talked about how to use employee evaluations to document problems and clearly set out your expectations and talked about eight additional employee evaluation tips. We have talked about how cases without proper documentation are the hardest cases to win.

We’ve talked about setting out your expectations in employee handbooks, requests for proposals and RFP responses. We’ve talked about the right way and the wrong way to fax documents. We’ve even talked about how to document important business matters in annual meeting minutes and how to do annual meetings right.

Take a few minutes. Review some of these prior LegalBriefs and remember, if you are a business person involved in a dispute, if it’s not in writing, it did not happen.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.