10 steps: Conducting an internal investigation

Follow these procedures when conducting internal investigations of alleged employee misconduct.

Supervisors' guide to progressive discipline

No state or federal law requires you to establish a progressive discipline policy. If your organization has one, however, make sure all your supervisors understand and follow it.

What to ask before punishing insubordination

An employee who doesn’t do what is asked of him or her is not necessarily insubordinate. Before disciplining for insubordination, delve a little deeper into the employee’s resistance.

Counter years of good reviews by documenting legit reasons for discipline

Generally, if an employer gives an employee consistently good reviews, courts will view that as evidence that the employer was satisfied with the worker’s job performance. An employee who alleges discrimination or retaliation can then use those good reviews to show that something else must have been the reason for a sudden discharge.

Mental health concerns? Focus on behavior

Worried an employee may have an undisclosed mental disability that is causing problems at work? Don’t treat him with kid gloves or suggest he seek mental health care.

Sensitive job, angry worker? OK to discipline

Some workers think that anytime their employer criticizes an emotional state or suggests therapy, the employer is “regarding” them as disabled. Thus, goes the argument, the employer violates the ADA when it tries to intervene.

Remind managers: It's essential to document every disciplinary decision and punishment

You never know which fired employee will sue. That’s why it’s important to make sure every disciplinary decision is based on solid business reasons. You may even want to create an internal disciplinary checklist to ensure managers and supervisors know how to document discipline.

Skipping disciplinary meeting is insubordination

An employee who refuses to attend a disciplinary meeting and is terminated as a result probably isn’t eligible for unemployment benefits. It amounts to insubordination and willful misconduct.

Document carefully when disciplining for injury

Sometimes, employees who carelessly injure themselves deserve discipline. That’s fine, as long as you carefully document the carelessness.

Suit: State didn't accommodate disability--alcoholism

A former Assistant Director of the State Lottery has filed suit against the Minnesota State Lottery, the Department of Management and Budget and her former boss, Ed Van Petten. She was fired after being charged with drunken driving in 2012 after injuring an elderly man in a traffic accident. She is yet to stand trial on those charges.

Fired county official denies harassment charges

The former head of the Dakota County Community Development Agency denied the charges that led to his firing in a meeting with the County Board.

Workplace detective: 10 investigation mistakes to avoid

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

Can we discipline for bad behavior at party?

Q. At our company holiday party, which was not at the workplace or during work hours, an employee told some inappropriate jokes and put an arm around a co-worker who did not appreciate it and complained. The company is aware that the employee took a leave of absence for treatment of chemical dependency and is concerned that the employee might have been drinking at the party. Can the company discipline the employee? The company would like the employee to get additional help for chemical dependency.

No money changed hands? Legal settlement still stands

Have you ever considered settling an employment dispute by having an employee promise to quit or retire, without any monetary payment? Don’t worry that such an agreement will later fall apart.

NLRB: You can't gag talk about investigations

For years, attorneys have urged employers conducting workplace investigations to make the employees they interview swear to keep the conversation confidential. But that conventional wisdom is in danger.
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