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Discipline / Investigations

Act fast to handle initial harassment claims


The HR office is often the first stop an employee makes before filing a lawsuit alleging supervisor harassment. How you handle the initial complaint can mean the difference between stopping a problem before it gets out of hand and losing a lawsuit.

FSU athletics tutor sues for defamation


Brenda Monk, a former learning specialist for Florida State University (FSU), has announced plans to file a $600,000 lawsuit for defamation following allegations that she provided test answers to FSU football players and other athletes she was tutoring.

Follow up on every harassment complaint


The best way to prevent a lawsuit is to promptly respond to every harassment complaint you receive from employees. Conduct a thorough investigation, reach a conclusion and document that you followed up and found no further problems. Be especially sure to show how you counseled or disciplined the harasser…

Older worker suddenly dinged? See you in court


Judges are naturally suspicious. They regularly see the worst of humanity, and many don’t have the rosiest outlook on life. So when they hear that an employer suddenly disciplined an employee who has put in decades of service with nary a blot on her disciplinary record, they think “age discrimination.”

Be prepared to explain why offenses were similar but punishments differed


Employers need flexibility when it comes to disciplining employees. But flexibility can’t come at the expense of members of a protected class. Be careful before you approve different punishments for the same or very similar rule violations.

Was state staffer ordered to check out ‘Joe the Plumber’?


Vanessa Niekamp, senior child support manager at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said she feared for her job when she approached the inspector general about background checks performed on Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber” …

Sexual harassment costs Nassau P.D. $1 million


Three former detectives for the Nassau County Police Department’s 8th Precinct in Levittown have won a $1 million verdict for sexual harassment and discrimination.

Document absences, and excuses, too


One of the best ways to win lawsuits at the earliest stages is to have ready a treasure trove of documents showing your decision about an employee was fair, impartial and reasonable. For example, for employees with absenteeism problems, document every absence.

You can apply rules more stringently to employees with greater responsibility


Do you sometimes worry that every decision you make about an employee’s rule-breaking must be absolutely fair and that there is only black and white, but no gray? If so, rethink that idea.

Cautionary tale: Video cameras provide powerful evidence


Here’s a cautionary tale you can tell employees when explaining they should never touch a fellow employee. With video surveillance cameras everywhere, such incidents may be caught on tape, and the employee doing the touching may have an innocent explanation that just won’t be heard over what seems to be happening on camera.