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Discipline / Investigations

Caught on camera! Public employers can snoop on employees during fraud probes

01/01/2008

California has a tough statute that protects celebrities against the paparazzi. But California law doesn’t necessarily shield the privacy of public employees. Government agencies can order and conduct intrusive investigations if they suspect public employees are committing workers’ comp and benefits fraud …

Unless there’s discipline, it’s not religious discrimination

12/01/2007

Employees whose employers turn down requests for time off to attend religious services can’t just run out and sue for religious discrimination. They have a case only if their employers discipline or discharge them for refusing to comply with the work requirements—for example, by skipping work to attend services …

Independent investigations by HR remove bosses’ biases

12/01/2007

If there’s one situation in which the HR function really earns its keep, it’s when an employer faces the prospect of having to discharge an employee. Sometimes—if a subordinate has a legitimate complaint against the supervisor, for example—the supervisor harbors illegal retaliatory motives. That’s when it’s best to have an independent decision-maker involved …

Discipline tracking system beats discrimination claims

12/01/2007

Can your organization produce concrete evidence backing up every disciplinary decision it’s made? You need a tracking system that does just that. Here’s why …

Go ahead and discipline, even when considering FMLA leave

12/01/2007

Employees who ask for FMLA leave often act as if they are immune from any sort of discipline. But that’s simply not the case. Even if an employee has applied for or is actually on FMLA leave, you can and should punish rule breaking. Just make sure you aren’t treating an employee who takes FMLA leave more harshly than any other employee. Equitable discipline is the rule …

Track all feedback to improve promotion process

12/01/2007

If your organization has lots of entry-level employees and a practice of promoting from within, you probably face a crowded field when trying to identify the best candidates for promotion. If that entry-level labor pool is also ethnically and racially diverse, you have to make sure your promotion process doesn’t favor one group over another. Here’s one way to pick the best of the best …

Got wind of harassment? Fast action can cut liability

12/01/2007

We all would like to believe harassment and discrimination can’t happen where we work. Of course, we’re dreaming if we do. Ordinary people sometimes fall back on old stereotypes or react strongly to newly perceived dangers by inappropriately striking out at a group or nationality. Fortunately for employers, isolated acts of harassment, if stopped dead in their tracks, won’t come back to haunt them years later …

Follow the discipline rules in your handbook to defeat discrimination claims

12/01/2007

Your organization’s employee handbook exists for a reason. It serves as a simple and effective way to let employees know what the rules are and what you expect in the way of behavior. If you can show that employees received copies of the handbook and were expected to be familiar with its contents, you have a good shot at defeating any discriminatory discharge claims if you disciplined according to the rules set out in the handbook …

Jury: Noose at work doesn’t prove discrimination occurred

12/01/2007

A noose on a table doesn’t mean the same thing to an all-white jury as it does to a 64-year-old black man, says retired city of Cocoa worker James Daniels. A six-member jury dismissed Daniels’ race discrimination lawsuit against the city, which centered on an incident involving a noose left on a break room table. “Most white folks don’t know what blacks go through,” Daniels said …

One lost lawsuit doesn’t necessarily lead to more

12/01/2007

Has your organization lost a previous race discrimination lawsuit? Ouch! You can bet some of your employees filed away that information for future use. However, you can take heart in a court’s recent decision that having previously lost a discrimination suit doesn’t constitute “proof” that your organization continues to discriminate—unless the new case deals with exactly the same type of alleged discrimination …