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An open door policy can help avoid disputes

Employment disputes can arise for all manner of reasons. The disputes may focus are job responsibilities, contract lengths, pay scales, and much more. Disputes sometimes focus on the termination of a contract on grounds that are thought to be illegal -- for example, when an employee feels that he or she was fired because of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or age.

Some studies have shown that companies with an open door policy may be able to avoid more of these disputes. This is not a fix for all workplace situations that arise, but positive results have been seen.

An open door policy essentially means that employees have free access to their supervisors or managers, and they're encouraged to go to them first with workplace problems. In some cases, employees may have specific people they are supposed to talk to, but the most open policies will simply allow employees to set up meetings with any other person who is higher in the chain of command.

The idea behind an open door policy is that officials within the company may not realize what is happening before it sparks a legal dispute. If employees talk to these authority figures first, they can sometimes take proactive steps to eliminate the problem before things get to that point. For example, an employee who suspects he or she is going to be fired by a lower-level manager based on discrimination may be able to go to a higher-level supervisor and voice his fears before that firing even takes place.

As noted, open door policies are not going to eliminate all disputes, so it's important for workers to know their rights in Michigan. This is especially true if workers have tried to approach higher-level executives and they still feel that their rights were ignored.

Source: ADR, "Resolving Employment Disputes," accessed July 14, 2016

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