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CCSNJ Connection


Inconsistent Enforcement of Policies


By: Susan S. Hodges, Esq.
Counsel and Chair, Employment and Labor Department, Parker McCay P.A.

Your company develops policies as a way mitigate risk and ensure operational excellence. These policies are added to your handbook, communicated to employees, and put into effect. But, what if your company doesn’t enforce these policies? What if your company inconsistently enforces these policies?

One word. Trouble.

Policies are an essential component of any organization. There are one of the first things that lawyers ask about when a lawsuit is filed. Do you have a policy? Did you follow it? Your policies tell both the company and its employees what is expected of them and what procedures will be followed when policies are violated.

One example of the problem you can face when you fail follow your own policy is the risk of having legal action brought against you for discrimination. For example, your company has a dress code policy that does not allow jeans to be worn in the workplace. One manager doesn’t enforce it. Another manager issues a write up for an employee who was wearing jeans on the same day, and sends that employee home to change (off the clock.) Now, imagine the employee who was sent home is part of a protected class? Sounds like trouble and a potential lawsuit. Why? Because you have a policy but you are not following it. Even worse, it appears that you chose to selectively apply it to an employee who is part of a protected class. And while that may not be the reason (often it is not), it is the employer’s burden to prove otherwise. And trying to do so can be expensive.

To avoid problems, policies should be clearly documented. Additionally, all managers and supervisors should receive training about policies and the importance of enforcing them fairly and consistently.

For questions, contact Susan Hodges at

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