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Discipline / Investigations

Cut your liability: Suspend and transfer harassers


Let’s say you promptly investigated a sexual harassment claim and conclude that an employee engaged in conduct that offended sensitive employees but wasn’t outrageous. What do you do? If your aim is to stem a brewing problem, it pays to do more than issue a verbal warning

Blocking employee’s exit could be false imprisonment


Do the supervisors in your organization know how to handle potentially volatile employment discussions? If they don’t use kid gloves, they could be sued personally by employees for state torts such as false imprisonment and battery …

Good records are key to winning retaliation lawsuits


When it comes to discharging employees, it’s very important to document your decision-making process. Be prepared to show that you followed company disciplinary rules and applied them even-handedly …

Allow accusers to bypass supervisor to file complaints


A sexual harassment policy is worthless unless it clues in those who really need to know what’s going on at the shop level. Don’t think you’re in the clear just because you have a policy and tell supervisors to stamp out harassment …

Workplace rules can be flexible … if enforced fairly


When it comes to creating workplace rules, don’t think you have to spell out every last detail. It’s OK to leave some rules intentionally vague, so you’ll have some wiggle room. Just be sure to exercise your discretion fairly …

FMLA: When You Can Refuse to Reinstate a Worker


HR Law 101: The FMLA allows employers to refuse to reinstate workers returning from FMLA leave under limited circumstances. For example, if you have experienced a reduction in force due to the economy or a companywide reorganization, you may be able to eliminate a returning worker’s job …

Paid suspensions are safer than unpaid ones


When you learn that an employee may have committed a crime or other offense that’s serious enough to warrant termination, you’ll naturally want to investigate before making a final decision. …

Deducting leave for partial-day absences


Q. Recently, we audited our jobs and determined that some employees were classified as hourly when they should be exempt. We reclassified them. But now, I have a question about handling time off for our newly exempt employees. By law, are we required to NOT charge an exempt person’s time if they’re out of the office for a half day? And if we do start charging an exempt person’s time (vacation or personal) if they miss an hour or two, are we setting ourselves up to be sued?

Traffic tardiness: Be consistent with punishments


Q. How many times should we allow an employee to be late before giving an oral warning? We have a mandatory 8:30 a.m. production meeting. Everyone knows traffic is out of control, but most employees manage to arrive on time most of the time. Some are consistently late and constantly blame traffic. —J.A., California

To defeat bias lawsuits, track all supervisors’ discipline


Nothing will sink an employee’s discrimination case faster than evidence that you handed out punishment in the exact same doses to other employees as well …