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Discipline / Investigations

Police called in response to workplace harassment? You must still act to stop future incidents

07/02/2012

If a co-worker, supervisor or cus­­tomer sexually assaults an em­ployee and the police are called in, the employer must still take reasonable steps to stop the harassment and prevent another assault. It’s not enough to rely on the police to take care of the problem.

Wexford comptroller had a good gig … while it lasted

07/02/2012
Patricia Smith, the former comptroller for the Baierl Acura dealership in Wexford, lived lavishly for 6½ years. Now Smith is trading in haute couture for prison coveralls after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $10 million from her employer between late 2004 and July 2011.

Union boss embezzled union funds for gambling

07/01/2012
Ernest Milewski, the Wilkes-Barre union official who earlier this year pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds and the assets of a health care benefit program, used his sentencing hearing to come clean on the reason why he stole the money—to pay for an out-of-control gambling habit.

Discipline hothead who won’t accept decision

06/15/2012

Smart employers try to fix discrimination and harassment problems right away. But sometimes the complaining employee wants more than the employer is willing to give and simply gets angry. If anger turns into insubordination, you can discipline without fear of losing a lawsuit.

Performance improving? Let probation continue

06/15/2012

Here’s a warning to employers that use a progressive disciplinary system: Follow it—for everyone. Cutting the process short except for good, solid reasons is asking for trouble. Performance improvement plans are a good example.

One rule, two employees, two violations: Document why discipline wasn’t identical

06/15/2012

When two employees break the same workplace rule, the surest way to avoid a potential lawsuit is to punish both exactly the same. However, that’s not always practical or appropriate. That’s especially true if the conduct involved wasn’t exactly the same. Before making any final disciplinary decisions, look at the rule and the specific facts.

Be wary of hitting employee with sudden criticism after FMLA request

06/14/2012
Here’s something to watch out for when approving a supervisor’s recommendation to discipline or discharge an employee. If the employee has re­­quested FMLA leave and was previously performing well, be suspicious of claims that she’s now performing poorly.

Document exactly why you fired employee

06/11/2012

In this economy, employees who have been fired often resort to litigation. Jobs are scarce and litigation looks lucrative. Smart employers protect themselves by carefully documenting exactly why they fired employees.

Beat bias charges by documenting specific reasons for the discipline you choose

06/11/2012

All employees are supposed to be treated equitably, regardless of their protected class. But just as each employee is different, so may discipline sometimes differ. To account for those differences, be very specific about the underlying reasons for your discipline.

Track discipline for equitable punishment

06/08/2012

If you had to, could you quickly produce records showing that every employee who broke the same rule received the same punishment? Would you be able to readily explain any deviations? If you hesitated when answering these questions, it’s time for action.