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Discipline / Investigations

Always investigate discrimination complaints to ferret out boss bias, prevent retaliation

01/09/2012
Ignoring a discrimination complaint can set in motion an un­­stop­­pable litigation train wreck. That’s especially true if you fail to in­­vestigate a boss who ends up retaliating against the complaining employee.

Questioning employees? Avoid ‘imprisonment’ charge by ensuring they know they may leave

01/09/2012
It may sound silly, but there’s a very practical reason to be careful when questioning employees during an investigation: Some especially sensitive people may feel they are being held involuntarily—and sue for false imprisonment.

Make termination decisions stick by documenting discipline at the time it occurs

01/09/2012

If you want a termination decision to stand up in court, make sure you carefully document all discipline that occurred before the firing—and do so at the time the discipline occurs. Otherwise, chances are a court or jury may assume the earlier incidents didn’t happen.

Ready to fire worker with poor attitude? Document examples before you deliver pink slip

01/02/2012

If a supervisor believes an employee has such a negative attitude that it warrants firing, do your HR duty! Immediately ask for documentation of the problem. It can’t wait until after the termination occurs. After-the-fact, subjective assessments may not survive a court challenge.

Politics around the watercooler: Can you discipline ‘overly political’ workers?

12/26/2011

While today’s Iowa caucuses feel like the end of a long campaign season, it’s really just the beginning of a heated political year … one that could spill over into your workplace. Follow these tips for handling political activity in your workplace and employees’ political advocacy outside of work.

Two employees involved in same incident? Punishment can differ if it’s not discriminatory

12/19/2011

If two employees break the same workplace rule, they should receive the same punishment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t distinguish between degrees of culpability. It’s perfectly fine to terminate an employee who has a long history of rule breaking and retain another because it’s a first offense.

Required: Investigating all harassment complaints Not required: Providing a perfect workplace

12/05/2011
Sometimes an employee may feel uncomfortable with the close proximity and may even interpret another employee’s innocent behavior as sexual harassment. While you must respond to every sexual harassment complaint and investigate, that doesn’t mean each incident warrants corrective action. Use common sense.

Passage of time can kill retaliation claim

12/05/2011

There’s some good news for em­­ployers concerned about retaliation after an employee participates in protected activity such as testifying in another employee’s discrimination lawsuit. If a substantial amount of time has passed since the employee’s testimony, any disciplinary action you take probably won’t be enough to form the basis of a retaliation claim.

Your detailed records: Keys to legal victory

12/02/2011

You never know which employee will file a discrimination lawsuit. These surprise lawsuits often allege that the employer disciplined ­others outside the employee’s protected class less severely for the same transgression. Protect your organization by providing detailed reasons for any discipline at the time it occurs.

Keep consistent records of all disciplinary actions

12/01/2011
You must track all disciplinary actions. That way, you can quickly determine whether your discipline has been equitable.