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Discipline / Investigations

Beware close timing between FMLA leave and discipline

04/15/2019
The closer a termination comes to the end of a worker’s FMLA leave, the more likely she may win an FMLA-retaliation lawsuit.

Shouting match doesn’t count as mediation

04/15/2019
If, during an investigation, you must bring an employee and her alleged harasser together to find out what happened, don’t let the meeting turn into a shouting match.

Consistency is key when deciding how to discipline for excessive medical absences

04/15/2019
Employers don’t have to keep disabled employees on the payroll after they have exhausted all available leave and received a reasonable accommodation of taking more time off. That doesn’t mean you can arbitrarily pick and choose which employees you discharge.

Warning letter doesn’t count as retaliation

04/15/2019
Retaliation must include an adverse employment action such as termination, demotion or some other substantial and negative action like transfer to an undesirable shift. A mere letter of warning doesn’t rise to the required level of adversity.

Bypass progressive discipline if necessary

04/15/2019
Progressive discipline plans are great for correcting the behavior of employees in whom you have invested time and money and getting them back on track. But always leave yourself an “out” for those cases when retaining the worker just doesn’t make sense.

Union member sentenced for defrauding health plan

04/09/2019
A scheme to defraud the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s health plan has earned a Southern California longshoreman a year-long prison sentence, along with a requirement to repay $201,000.

Prepare to prove discipline has been consistent

04/03/2019
If you need to fire someone for breaking a rule, document the exact rule he broke. Then check to see how you punished others who broke the same rule. Be prepared to show how their situations compared to the current case.

Threatening to reduce employee’s bonus isn’t enough to justify quitting

04/03/2019
A grieving husband has lost a lawsuit that claimed he had no choice but to quit after his employer threatened to reduce his bonus if he continued to take time off to recover from a tragic personal loss.

Respect the results of outside investigations into complaints

03/26/2019
Be prepared to honor the findings of outside investigators you hire to get to the bottom of internal complaints. Accept the results and act immediately to remedy the situation.

Cite specifics to document poor performance

03/26/2019
When disciplining workers, consider the potential for lawsuits. Assume that anyone you terminate might sue.