• The HR Specialist - Print Newsletter
  • HR Specialist: Employment Law
  • The HR Weekly

Discipline / Investigations

How to Wipe Out Fraud and Abuse Under FMLA

The medical certification process is your most potent weapon for combating potential FMLA fraud. But obtaining a certification is only the first fraud-stopping step. Here are 10 more things you can do to keep employees from gaming the FMLA system.

A fair investigation is all that’s required

It’s important to thoroughly and fairly investigate whenever an employee is accused of wrongdoing. Employers have lots of leeway to investigate as they see fit, as long as they can demonstrate their investigation was conducted in good faith.

Get written acknowledgment for every missed shift

Employers that have clear rules and apply them fairly seldom lose termination lawsuits—if they can prove their employees understood the rules. One of the best ways to demonstrate that is by consistently having workers acknowledge that they broke a rule. Do this at the time you discipline the worker, pointing out what rule they broke. A brief written disciplinary notice with a space for the employee’s signature should to the trick.

Cost of a one-sided investigation: $15 million

Ignoring a complaint or summarily dismissing it almost guarantees you’ll lose a lawsuit if the complaining employee decides to sue. But how you conduct that investigation is crucial. Lean too heavily towards supporting the alleged victim, and the alleged perpetrator may be the one who sues you.

Workplace investigations: Get the facts about alleged harassment

When faced with a harassment complaint, you know you must conduct a prompt and thorough investigation. Then, if there’s merit to the complaint, you must fix the situation. Plus, you must come up with a plan to prevent a recurrence. But before any of that happens, you have to get the facts.

Sink retaliation claims by engaging an outsider to investigate bias complaints

Using an outside entity to investigate internal discrimination or harassment complaints helps prevent retaliation lawsuits. That’s because there’s no reason for an outside investigator to take sides in the outcome.

NLRB ruling: Weigh context when punishing employee for angry outbursts

The National Labor Relations Act, which is administered by the National Labor Relations Board, protects employees’ right to form and join a labor union and engage in so-called concerted activities to improve working conditions. Recently, the NLRB ruled that occasional angry outbursts—even if offensive enough to potentially create a hostile environment under Title VII—are protected activity under the NLRA.

Build toolkit to use every time you launch an investigation

Employment lawyer John Doran has a secret weapon he deploys every time a client asks him to conduct an investigation of alleged workplace misconduct: an investigations toolkit already loaded onto his laptop. It contains templates for all the documents needed to conduct witness interviews, determine what happened and guide the investigation toward resolution.

Your anti-harassment obligations are 24/7/365

An employer has the same obligations whether the harassment takes place in the workplace during working hours, in the break room, at the bar during happy hour, via text message or social media, in a grocery store aisle or in outer space.

Refusal to sign discipline memo? What to do

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