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Discipline / Investigations

Progressive discipline best approach with problem employee


Some employees may believe their co-workers and supervisors are out to get them because of race, sex or some other protected characteristic. Then they look for evidence to support those beliefs. They catalog every slight for future reference—maybe in a lawsuit. Your best defense against such litigation is a well-established progressive discipline system …

Political activity in the workplace: Can you discipline employees?


The upcoming elections will highlight partisan politics and controversial issues affecting employees. No doubt, your workplace will be the site of some political discussions—and maybe overtly political activity. You need to understand when you can and cannot discipline employees for political activity …

Manager’s racist comment may seal the deal on hostile environment


If you don’t punish it right away, even a single racist comment by a manager can result in an employee filing a racially hostile environment claim. Here’s why: If the employee on the receiving end is also being dealt with harshly by her boss, she can effectively link the comment with the other poor treatment …

Investigate to find truth behind discrimination complaints

Sometimes a supervisor targets the members of protected classes for poor treatment. But what looks like discrimination sometimes isn’t. Employers can learn the truth—and often protect themselves from liability—by holding off on discipline until after HR has conducted a thorough, independent investigation …

Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute requires caution before discharge

Colorado employees are protected from being fired for engaging in lawful activities while off duty that are unrelated to their job duties. Employers should carefully consider discharging someone if it appears that off-duty activities may be a factor. It’s crucial to tie disciplinary action to legitimate job concerns apart from any outside activities …

Act fast to stop co-Worker harassment

The key to winning co-worker harassment cases is to show that you took swift, just and effective action as soon as you learned about the harassment. The following case proves that’s a winning strategy …

Ensuring the confidentiality of HR info

Q. I’m the HR director of a 45-employee company and have one assistant. Due to the firm’s growth, I’m considering giving my assistant more responsibility. My concern: The assistant is very friendly with about 10 other employees, two of which are her roommates. What’s to stop her from divulging information to her friends? I have said nothing to her about my concerns yet. What can I express to her without overstepping her legal rights? …

When janitor was caught reading, IUPUI leaped, then looked

Last fall, two black employees of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) objected when they spotted janitor Keith Sampson reading Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan in a campus break room. The cover of the book features white-robed Klansmen and burning crosses …

Is it legal to discipline an employee for tardiness by suspending her without pay?

Q. I work in HR at a customer call-in center. To make sure we have enough coverage to handle calls, we have a strict tardiness policy. Recently, one of our customer service agents was late for work several days in a row. She is an otherwise outstanding performer and we don’t want to fire her. In the alternative, we would like to suspend her for one week without pay. Is that legal? …

State troopers charge ‘Arbitrary, antiquated’ processes are biased

Twenty-three black and Hispanic state troopers are suing the New Jersey State Police, alleging bias in promotions, training, special assignments and discipline. The lawsuit claims the department’s promotion system is “an arbitrary, antiquated and subjective process that is skewed in favor of male Caucasians.”