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Discipline / Investigations

Details matter when documenting discipline

Smart employers make sure they document—in advance—the underlying reasons for any disciplinary actions. When preparing documentation, be sure to provide all the details, especially if two employees committed arguably similar offenses but were punished differently.

Discipline calls for language that cites objective shortcomings, not editorial opinions

When disciplining employees, try to stick to objective facts. For example, if a worker isn’t abiding by a dress code, state what rule she is violating. Keep the editorial comments to yourself.

Prepare to justify discipline occurring after employee complains about discrimination

Simply put, a bad review all by itself isn’t usually grounds for a lawsuit in most cases. However, punishing someone with a bad review because they complained about discrimination may land you in legal trouble.

Bungled investigation may not sink defense

Sometimes, investigations don’t go as planned. An employer can have good policies and the best of intentions and still make mistakes. Fortunately, that’s not necessarily the kiss of death for a workplace investigation. Just be prepared to clearly explain what happened.

Texas Supreme Court greenlights Bev Kearney’s lawsuit

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that a long-simmering sex and racial discrimination lawsuit filed by former University of Texas women’s track and field coach Bev Kearney can proceed.

Never ignore any lawsuit

Here’s a lesson for small employers that may be tempted to ignore legal pleadings, thinking there’s no merit to a worker’s claims. Doing so likely will result in a default judgment.

OK to discipline even after worker complains

Some employees may not realize it, but filing an internal discrimination or harassment complaint doesn’t create immunity to legitimate, unrelated discipline.

Discipline ASAP if boss targets older workers

It happens all too often: A bully boss yells, berates, pushes and prods older employees more than other staff members. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that resigning under such circumstances is a reasonable response and amounts to a constructive discharge.

When bias charges loom, documentation proves discipline was warranted

When it comes to terminating an employee for poor performance, careful documentation is essential. Make sure you can later explain exactly how you handled the employee’s performance problems.

Your own detective work can pay off in court

Employees have only a limited amount of time in which to file lawsuits. However, judges sometimes bend over backwards to give late filers a second chance. When that happens, it may be worth finding out why the delay occurred.