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Discipline / Investigations

Tell all bosses: You must report harassment

It’s crucial for front-line supervisors to report alleged race harassment up the chain of command. That’s because courts will inevitably conclude that when an employee complains about harassment to the boss, that puts the company on notice that it had better investigate the problem and fix it.

Wells Fargo loan officer pleads guilty to wire fraud

A former Wells Fargo loan officer in Maple Grove has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for his part in approving $4.3 million in fraudulent loans. The bank took a $1.5 million loss on the deal.

Have a progressive-discipline system? Great! But reserve right to fire immediately if necessary

Many employers have a progressive-discipline system. Usually that’s good. But sometimes you may need to deviate from the disciplinary script. To keep your options open, make sure you explain that the disciplinary system is for guidance only, and that you reserve the right to apply the rules based on the individual circumstances of a particular case.

She’s not our employee! Are we liable for subcontractor harassment?

Q. We recently received a complaint of harassment from an employee of one of the contractors we hire to do some work around our facility. I know, of course, all about our duty to prevent and stop sexual and other kinds of harassment of our own employees. But we don’t have a duty to do the same for the employees of another company, do we?

Ocala firm pays for tolerating same-sex harassment

Prestige Home Centers, a mobile-home manufacturer based in Ocala, has agreed to pay $79,000 to several male employees who claimed a male supervisor at the company’s Lake City facility verbally harassed, groped and propositioned them.

When harassment escalates despite warnings and second chances, it’s time to terminate


If a claim of sexual harassment comes down to nothing more than one employee’s word against another’s, it can be difficult to decide to fire the alleged harasser. It can be even harder if you know the accused harasser is involved in litigation against the company.

Worker sends complaint to HR? You must respond

Some employers believe that actually filing a lawsuit or EEOC complaint is the only protected activity. That’s simply not true. Em­ployees who voice concerns to HR about possible discrimination at work are also protected from retaliation.

OK to base discipline on severity of violation

Employers generally must treat employees equally, including when they break the rules. But that doesn’t mean you have no disciplinary flexibility. The key: Explain why you think one employee deserves more serious punishment than another who committed the same infraction.

You can justify differing discipline for similar conduct


Some employers believe that if several employees break the same rule, they must be punished exactly the same. That’s true—to a point. You can discipline one employee more harshly than another if you can show why you believe their conduct wasn’t so similar after all.

He said/she said: Gauging credibility in harassment cases

Most employers understand the importance of doing a fair and thorough in-house investigation when they receive complaints of on-the-job harassment. But many investigators falsely believe they can’t conclude that harassment occurred unless they have independent witnesses to the allegations. So what should you do when confronted with conflicting stories?