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Discipline / Investigations

What are the rules on recording an investigative conversation?

Q. We need to investigate a claim of misconduct against an employee and will interview the employee in person or over the phone. May we record the conversation without telling the employee? …

When disciplining, focus on problems unrelated to FMLA or ADA disability

You don’t have to fear being sued for ADA or FMLA violations just because you discipline a disabled person. Just as with any other employee, you can discipline if you focus on the tasks not completed and the rules broken. When it comes to attendance infractions, carefully document tardiness and absences that are not related to the employee’s disability or serious health condition …

The New Kind of I-9 I.D. You Must Accept

U.S. employers must begin accepting the government’s new wallet-sized passport card—a portable alternative to the traditional passport book—as an acceptable document for completing Form I-9s, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced. Here’s what you need to know about this new form of I.D.

Breaks required—But forcing employees to take them isn’t

In what may end up being a landmark decision, a California Court of Appeal has held that Golden State employers aren’t required to ensure employees actually take meal and rest breaks. Employers are in the clear as long as they permit breaks and do not prevent or discourage employees from taking them …

Draw the line between ‘tough talk’ and harassment

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Tracking all discipline makes it easier to defend lawsuits

Employees who are fired frequently sue, alleging some form of discrimination. A fired employee may say, for example, that she was treated differently than her male co-worker who allegedly committed the same workplace offense. Smart employers keep careful track of all disciplinary actions and use progressive disciplinary programs to differentiate among employees …

Prejudgment, blind faith by HR may prove costly

How HR handles discrimination complaints can mean the difference between winning and losing lawsuits. The key lies in using good faith when checking out allegations of discrimination. Do not automatically assume that either party is correct. Keep an open mind and conduct an impartial investigation, giving everyone a chance to present his or her version of events …

Root out subtle but pervasive hostility—It’s harassment even if it’s not severe

Tell your managers to take note: Allowing one or two employees to poison the workplace, even with low-level harassment, is dangerous. A constant barrage of racially tinged comments may warrant a jury trial if someone claims the workplace is a racially hostile environment. The charge: The harassment is pervasive, even if it is not severe …

Court rules employers must provide harassment-Free workplace

Earlier this year, a federal jury in Florida awarded $630,000 to 14 female prison employees who alleged that the state Department of Corrections created a hostile work environment by failing to prevent lewd behavior by male inmates. The court made it very clear that employers must ensure all employees have a harassment-free workplace, regardless of who the harasser is …

Act fast to investigate, correct hostile work environment signs

It’s not unusual to read about racially motivated incidents that occur at work. Slurs, graffiti and other acts of intimidation can lead to hostile environment lawsuits. By the time the graffiti shows up or the slurs are uttered, some of the damage has already been done. However, smart employers react immediately and try to limit the damage …