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Discipline / Investigations

Workplace fight? OK to punish based on severity of injuries

02/22/2019
If two workers fight, employers are free to issue harsher punishment to the worker who inflicts the most severe injuries. Just make sure you document exactly why you believe the more aggressive worker deserves greater punishment.

No-fighting rule? Punish combatants equally

02/22/2019
You probably have a rule against any form of violence in the workplace. Make sure you uniformly discipline everyone involved in any altercation.

Note all details that led up to discipline

02/01/2019
Having good documentation of your reasoning will often persuade a judge or jury that discrimination wasn’t the real reason for differing discipline, and that you legitimately used discretion to arrive at the appropriate punishment.

Subway employee invents black assailant to cover theft

02/01/2019
A white resident of Rice, near St. Cloud, Minn., has admitted to police that she lied about being assaulted and robbed by a black man as she carried the day’s receipts from the Subway store where she worked.

Justify why you decided not to follow the ‘same rule violation, same punishment’ rule

02/01/2019
Generally, if two employees break the same workplace rule and don’t have any prior violations, you should punish them the same way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make judgment calls on which one may deserve more severe punishment, including discharge.

Break the FMLA shield: Document when you began considering discipline

01/23/2019
An employee may think taking FMLA leave will prevent serious discipline such as being terminated. That strategy won’t work if you can show the disciplinary process had already begun before she asked for FMLA leave.

Don’t let disability stop legitimate discipline

01/23/2019
It’s reasonable to worry that disciplining an employee who is disabled might trigger a lawsuit. Don’t let those kinds of concerns dissuade you from otherwise legitimate discipline. Courts general allow employers great leeway to punish employees who seem to genuinely deserve it.

Prepare to show you impose discipline equally

01/22/2019
Would you be able to persuade a judge that every employee you have recently disciplined was treated the same as every other employee you have previously punished for the same infraction? It’s essential.

Beware close timing between discipline and employee’s request to take FMLA leave

01/22/2019
If you intend to discipline someone who is on or is about to go on FMLA leave, be sure everything about the disciplinary process looks legitimate and fair.

Prepare to show you would have disciplined even if employee wasn’t a whistleblower

01/22/2019
Sometimes, an employee may decide to take revenge if she perceives she has been unfairly disciplined. If she does so by becoming a whistleblower, she may believe that protects her from eventual termination. That’s not true if the employer can persuade a court it would have disciplined or fired her whether she reported alleged wrongdoing or not.