Sonic Franchise Model Employee handbook

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This SONIC Franchise Model Employee Handbook was developed through the dedicated efforts of members of the SONIC Franchise community including the Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) Great People Task Group with assistance from attorneys Craig Annunziata and Steve Miller of Fisher & Phillips LLP.  For over 20 years, Craig and Steve have worked closely with IMA and its clients including the SONIC Franchisees who participate in IMA’s Sonic Insurance Program.

If you choose to use this SONIC Franchise Model Employee Handbook, you must understand and consider the following prior to distribution to employees:

  • The Handbook must be adapted to the operations and policies of the particular franchisee
  • State and local laws may vary and, when applicable, should be incorporated into the Handbook
  • Consult with employment counsel prior to distribution

Additional Forms and Information


Claims Reporting Information [PDF]

EPL Slideshow [PDF]

Employment Practices Liability

Employment Practices Liability (EPL) related claims continue to be one of the fastest growing sources of claims in the restaurant industry. Consequently, it is important for each SONIC operator to understand this liability and make a business decision to insure against this exposure.

EPL coverage protects you from loss, including defense expenses, arising out of employment related wrongful acts, including:

  • Discrimination, Sexual/Workplace Harassment and Wrongful Termination
  • Workplace Torts (including, but not limited to retaliation, defamation, infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy)
  • Third-Party Liability (allegations of discrimination or harassment made against the operator by a customer or vendor)

Coverage features:

  • Limit options up to $10,000,000 (higher limits are available outside of the program)
  • Low premium options per unit
  • Low deductible
  • Risk Management services included (Pre-claims loss mitigation services; Webinars; Online access to state laws/employment regulation information)
  • Defense expense sublimit for alleged violations of Wage & Hour laws
  • Defense expense sublimit for the franchisor as a co-defendant in an EPL claim
  • Directors & Officers Liability sublimit
  • Fiduciary Liability sublimit

*All sublimits are part of the aggregate limit of liability, not in addition to


Wrongful Termination/Retaliation
$31,745 Legal Fees - $25,000 Settlement

Plaintiff alleged wrongful termination arising from retaliation due to money missing from her drawer.

Sexual Harassment
$120,000 Legal Fees - $150,000 Settlement

Plaintiff alleged supervisor made several uninvited sexual advances.


As part of this program you will have access to Fisher & Phillips, who specialize in employment practice liability, to provide defense for all claims.


Steve Miller


Craig Annunziata


Fisher & Phillips has proudly partnered with IMA for over 20 years to assist IMA’s insureds in risk management services related to employment claims implicated by Employment Practices Liability (“EPL”) Insurance.  Fisher & Phillips assists our Sonic Drive-In insureds with a toll free hotline (866) 639-4541 and email ( to consult with attorneys Craig Annunziata or Steve Miller (partners at Fisher and Phillips, who have handled thousands of Sonic Drive-In workplace issues) to address employment-related issues before they result in a claim.

For example, these services includes advice on:

  • employee discipline and terminations
  • employee leave requests
  • workplace investigations
  • handbook and policy issues

Fisher & Phillips will also provide in-person or web-based manager/supervisor training, and other services as well.  Employment laws are complicated and vary from state to state.  IMA offers these services to help you navigate these laws so you can focus on the business of your Drive-In.

"As a result of our IMA/Sonic Partnership with Fisher & Phillips, we have called upon Steve and Craig who have always taken our call and provided sound and reasonable advice that has served to help us to favorable outcomes and sound policy decisions. They are a great part of the Sonic Team!"

Michael Perry
Great Lake Sonics, LLC

"The team at Fisher & Phillips has become an invaluable resource and trusted advisor for Mason Harrison Ratliff Enterprises. Craig Annunziata is now our first call when we have an EPL question or issue. Craig always provides sound advice, as well as timely and straightforward answers to our questions. We greatly appreciate his ability to quickly evaluate complex fact patterns and legal questions and provide thorough, easy-to-understand answers and, where appropriate, concrete action items to take moving forward."

Reeder E. Ratliff
Mason Harrison Ratliff Enterprises LLC

Fisher & Phillips recently partnered with the SONIC Franchise community and the FAC to develop the Sonic Franchise Model Employee Handbook that can be accessed through the Sonic Insurance Program web portal or PartnerNet