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Discipline / Investigations

Prevent bias lawsuits: Never simply rubber-stamp boss’s discipline recommendation

Before approving a supervisor’s recommended disciplinary action, HR should conduct an independent investigation. It needn’t be extensive, but it’s essential to document that you checked into the facts of the case.

Review disciplinary records to uncover hidden supervisory discrimination

Before discharging an employee for violating a rule, make sure that he or she really did commit an infraction. Be particularly alert for the possibility that a supervisor might have tried to manipulate the rules to get an employee to break one.

Mere threat of discipline is no reason to quit

Employees who quit can still sue their employers just as if they had been fired for an unlawful reason—under very limited circumstances.

Ensure disciplinary documents contain enough detail to justify harsh punishment

Details are especially important when different employees break similar rules and you punish some more harshly than others. You need to be able to show why you fired one employee while another whose misconduct was identical was allowed to keep his job.

Internal harassment complaints: Avoid these 5 mistakes

Receiving an internal harassment complaint is a critical moment for an employer. How you handle the complaint can affect workplace morale, the likelihood of a lawsuit or an administrative charge and the defenses available to you as an employer, among other things.

Internal complaints not protected as ‘free speech’

The Texas Constitution gives Texas public employees the right to free speech. Thus, a public employee who speaks out in public about a matter of public importance cannot be punished for doing so. However, that’s not true if the speech occurs at work.

Which word doesn’t belong when disciplining a pregnant employee? That’s right: pregnant!

A little bit of caution goes a long way toward limiting charges of pregnancy-bias discrimination.

Suspect employee theft? Skip the lie-detector test

Federal law says most employers cannot require employees to take polygraphs.

‘Interrogate’ without triggering legal liability

Aggressively questioning an employee suspected of stealing from your workplace can be a flash point for a lawsuit. If you are part of the investigation, follow these guidelines when interviewing suspects.

Track every disciplinary action in detail

Document all the details when you discipline or terminate. That way, you can review past discipline and compare it with currently proposed action. Similar conduct should result in similar punishment.