DISCIPLINE / INVESTIGATIONS

Refusal to sign discipline memo? What to do

08/24/2015
Every HR professional knows the importance of disciplinary documentation. But what happens if an employee refuses to sign a disciplinary memo?

Disciplinary cases require detailed records

08/24/2015

You know the mantra: To win lawsuits, you must document, document, document! When it comes to employees who sue you for discrimination after they have been disciplined, documentation means making careful, contemporaneous notes about alleged rule-breaking or other wrongdoing. It means and saving records for every disciplinary action. You can’t just zealously document misdeeds by the employee you think will sue. You have to do it for everyone.

Progressive discipline can help win bias suits

08/13/2015

Discharged employees often sue, counting on their protected status—based on race, sex, national origin and so on—to create the impression that they were fired for discriminatory reasons. That’s why it’s important to use a progressive discipline system. It lets you counter discrimination allegations with solid, documented performance or behavior problems that warranted discharge.

VA offices cited for cutting corners & falsifying records

08/05/2015
The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General has issued a blistering report on departmental practices.

Whistle-blower slipping: Punish or let it slide?

08/03/2015
Jack has become a minor celebrity with co-workers ever since he filed an OSHA complaint about a supposedly hazardous condition at the plant. He spends so much time talking about safety that his job performance is declining. Jack needs to be disciplined. What would you do?

Rules aren't made to be broken! Insubordination is grounds for demotion

07/23/2015
If you have employees like that, carefully document the behavior. Then apply appropriate discipline, especially if the employee is insubordinate. Just make sure that everyone else with a similar work record is also punished the same way.

Going easy on tardiness doesn't mean you can never discipline for late arrival

07/03/2015

There are times that an employee can get away with behavior that you otherwise wouldn’t tolerate. During a busy period, for example, you might be more forgiving of tardiness than when things are slower. After all, when things are busy, a late employee may be better than no employee. But if you ignore tardiness, are you forever condemned to tolerate it? Of course not, as a recent case makes clear. Still, consistency is always the best practice.

Speaking up at staff meeting generally not protected by the First Amendment

06/24/2015
Public employees have the right to free speech and can’t be punished for exercising it. But that doesn’t mean they can say anything, anywhere. The exercise of free speech must concern a matter of public importance and not be done as part of the employee’s job.

It's legal to use different disciplinary standards for probationary employees

06/24/2015

No doubt you have been warned many times that the best way to avoid discrimination lawsuits involving discipline is to treat everyone alike. The assumption is that by always being fair and punishing the same behavior, rule violation or poor performance the same, no one can argue that they were demoted, suspended or fired because of their protected status. But there is a situation in which you can—and probably should—treat some employees more strictly as a class.

Employee failed to tell us about the unsafe condition that led to her injury--can we discipline?

06/17/2015
Q: “I have an employee who told me on Monday that she was hurt on the prior Thursday. While we will certainly take care of the injury and report it and offer care, we would like to write up a disciplinary notice for her not immediately reporting both the unsafe condition that caused the injury as well as the injury itself. May we do this?” – Kary, Maryland

An investigation is inevitable: Now what?

06/05/2015
At some point the question becomes not whether you need to dig deep into a case of workplace misconduct, but who you're going to get for the task. Here are some guidelines.

Workplace detective: 10 investigation mistakes to avoid

05/19/2015
How you look into misconduct can have huge legal implications for your company. Get the process right the first time.

Investigating workplace misconduct: How to use your poker face & steady hand

05/06/2015
A workplace investigation is no country for amateurs. Attorney Ann Kotlarski has laid out what a reasonable one looks like and reveals why you'd better put the very best people on cases holding even a germ of trouble.

Workers ask to talk to HR about their boss: What now?

04/27/2015
You are probably accustomed to meeting with individual employees who have problems with a manager. But what do you do when a handful of employees request a meeting with HR? Don’t be flustered, intimidated or decline to meet. Use the following plan to handle the situation.

Last-chance agreement can salvage employee

03/23/2015
If immediate termination isn’t wanted or warranted, use a last-chance agreement to retain a marginal worker who shows some promise. It will show a court that you acted in good faith before ultimately pulling the termination trigger.
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