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Discipline / Investigations

Discipline OK even if employee has complained

11/01/2012
Courts are consistently hesitant to second-guess well-founded employment decisions. Of course, they won’t let you get away with discriminating or retaliating against an employee for filing an EEOC complaint or lawsuit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t discipline an employee if she needs prodding to meet your legitimate expectations.

Add credibility to your investigations: Have employee sign off on your notes

10/30/2012
If you interview employees during the course of misconduct investigations, make sure to take accurate notes. Then, before concluding the interview, have the employee read and sign the notes, attesting that they accurately reflect what was said.

Last-chance agreement can head off discrimination suit

10/22/2012
An employee you’re about to fire says he’s being discriminated against. If you think he’ll sue if you terminate him, consider offering him a last-chance agreement—all he has to do is promise not to sue for discrimination.

‘Keep this private’ may be unlawful request during internal investigations

10/18/2012

When investigating claims of harassment or misconduct, it’s common to ask employees whom you interview to “keep this information confidential.” But a new ruling from the NLRB says that such a blanket confidentiality rule violates employees’ legal rights unless “legitimate and substantial justification exists” for the rule.

Court loses patience with frivolous lawsuits

10/15/2012
Do you have an employee who’s threatening to sue if you discipline him? Don’t let that prevent legitimate discipline.

Beat retaliation suit with good HR records

10/15/2012

Employees who suspect they are facing discipline sometimes think they can stop the process by complaining about some form of alleged discrimination. At the very least, they reason, they can claim they suffered retaliation for reporting discrimination. Smart employers keep careful rec­­ords showing the internal timeline for all employment decisions.

Same offense, same discipline? Not necessarily

10/01/2012

You’re probably aware that, generally, you should issue the same discipline to everyone who breaks the same rule. But that isn’t always the case. As long as you can explain why one employee deserved harsher punishment, a judge probably won’t second-guess you.

Keep careful HR records to demonstrate solid processes–and catch employee’s lie

10/01/2012
If an eventual lawsuit alleges that an employee submitted a form or sent a letter containing specific information, good records will make it easier to counter that claim. You’ll be able to tell the court about your process and then ask for an expert analysis of the document.

It’s all hilarious … until someone sues

09/21/2012
You know the gags: Post-it notes labeling everything in Greg’s cubicle. Duct-taping Stacey’s office door. Photoshopping Dave’s picture on a photo of a Sumo wrestler. But what should you do when the jokes go too far?

Checks fly, banker goes to jail … and the bank fails

09/18/2012
The former president of Pinehurst Bank in St. Paul will serve 42 months in federal prison following convictions on five counts of misapplying bank funds in a 2010 check-kiting scheme. The resulting losses forced the bank to close in May 2010.