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Discipline / Investigations

Be alert for retaliation after employee reports wrongdoing

The Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA) is designed to protect Minnesota employees who are punished for reporting company practices they believe are illegal. It’s not HR’s job to determine whether anything illegal occurred. However, when an employee has blown the whistle on a company practice, HR must make sure any future discipline is warranted and not driven by an ulterior motive …

Investigating sexual harassment? Ask victim whether she’s told HR everything

Sexual harassment investigations can be embarrassing for everyone, including the alleged victim. But in order to conduct a fair and impartial investigation, HR must know exactly what happened. You don’t want to get part of the story, only to find out later that there was more …

Track all discipline so you can show harsh punishment wasn’t retaliation

The easiest way for an employee to win a discrimination lawsuit is to complain about discrimination and then sit back and wait for a supervisor or manager to retaliate. That’s why it’s so important for HR to keep track of discrimination complaints and disciplinary actions …

Albany police clerk seeks $35 million

Shirley Morton, a clerical worker for the Albany Police Department, has filed a $35 million lawsuit against the department and the city, claiming Sgt. Kevin McKenna subjected her to sexual harassment, unwanted physical contact and verbal abuse for 12 years …

Background checks, employee investigations and the FCRA

Employers that use third parties (referred to in the law as credit reporting agencies, or CRAs) to perform background checks and investigations need to be aware of the requirements of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) …

HR decision doesn’t have to be perfect—Just honest

Sometimes, even the best HR professionals may feel paralyzed when faced with a major employee discipline decision, such as whether an employee should be fired. They hedge and keep asking supervisors questions, or keep an investigation open to get more information. If this sounds like your HR office when dealing with a discrimination complaint, relax …

Sometimes an apology is all it takes

Jack Burghardt, an administrative support assistant in the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s Office, said he meant no offense when he asked two Hispanic co-workers how much it costs their “people to get across the border these days.” His boss felt the comment had racial overtones and suspended Burghardt for four days …

Black Denver deputies allege discrimination in sheriff’s dept.

A group of black sheriff’s deputies is suing Denver and the Denver Sheriff Department, claiming the agency harbors a “culture of racism.” The lawsuit claims black employees are punished more harshly than whites for similar behavior …

Make sure investigation process doesn’t defame employee

As an employer, you are obligated to investigate employee harassment and discrimination claims. How you handle those investigations can determine whether you’ll have to prepare for later lawsuits. The problem: allegations that you defamed someone while conducting the investigation …

Track discipline to show equal treatment for all workers

Insist that managers tell HR when they issue any form of discipline, even an oral warning. That way, there’s a record that you can later use to explain why it only looks like a discharged employee was punished more harshly than others who committed the same offense …