• The HR Specialist - Print Newsletter
  • HR Specialist: Employment Law
  • The HR LAW Weekly
  • The HR Weekly

Discipline / Investigations

Dunkin’ Donuts store pays for not investigating harassment

The owner of a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise will pay $290,000 and agree to enter into a six-year settlement agreement after it refused to investigate charges that the store manager was sexually harassing female workers. Many of the employees were just 16 and 17 years old at the time.

When workplace romance goes bad, fall back on sexual harassment policy for discipline


It’s bound to happen eventually: Two of your employees will have an affair. Then one of them will break it off, leaving the other hurt, angry and perhaps vengeful. It’s all a recipe for disaster—and HR will have to manage the situation. You can punish them both, assuming they are merely co-workers. But if your rules aren’t very specific, you’ll have to be careful.

Quiz for managers: Documenting discipline the legal way


If an employee ever sues, you need to have strong documentation of performance, behavior and discipline issues. Managers sit on the front lines of the documentation battlefield. Have your supervisors take our quiz to test their knowledge of documentation do’s and don’ts. Plus, learn three documentation rules every manager must know.

Documenting employee discipline: 3 cardinal rules

Managers should make documentation of employee performance, behavior and discipline a regular habit. Strong documentation is especially important if an employee or ex-employee ever files a legal complaint saying his or her termination or discipline was based on illegal discrimination.

When employees foul up, feel free to tailor your response to fit the circumstances


Employees break rules from time to time. They make mistakes occasionally. When those things happen, you have to respond. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you must discipline or correct every employee the same way all the time. Management needs the flexibility to tailor solutions to particular problems, because every situation is different.

Loud and inappropriate gripe? OK to punish, even if complaint involved discrimination


It goes without saying that employers can’t punish employees because they have complained about discrimination. That would be retaliation, and could mean a lost lawsuit even if the employee wasn’t correct about her allegations. But that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate loud, obnoxious or disruptive complaints, no matter what their content.

Court: Discipline OK if disabled worker makes threats

It’s been an open question whether Cali­for­nia’s Fair Employment and Hous­ing Act allows employers to punish a mentally ill employee whose disease makes her act out. Now the answer is clear: You can punish mentally disabled employees for threats or violence against co-workers.

Courts will understand: Feel free to punish differently for misconduct that appears similar


When companies draft their employee handbooks, they often strive for certainty. Employees want to know what the rules are and employers often oblige with draconian, zero-tolerance rules. No wonder managers often try to apply all the rules equally in all situations. But the smart money is on flexibility.

Use fair progressive discipline and clear documentation to prove you’re not biased


It happens—employers make mistakes. Under most circumstances, however, those mistakes won’t turn into successful employee discrimination lawsuits. That’s because employees have to prove that both the decision and the underlying facts were wrong and were used as an excuse to discriminate.

Not all offenses are equal–make the punishment fit the ‘crime’


When disciplining conduct that violates company policies, remember that you have leeway to come up with appropriate punishment based on the specifics of each incident. Just make sure you document the conduct, what rules it violated and why each employee deserved the punishment he or she received.