Virtually every employer will need to discipline employees from
time to time. The reasons for discipline vary. It may be for poor
performance, or it may be for a rule violation. It may even be
simply to send a message about behavior or actions the employer
wants to curtail or discourage. Whatever the reason, for discipline
to serve its purpose and, more important, for you to avoid the
legal pitfalls that can accompany improper or sloppy disciplinary
actions, it is critical discipline be administered and documented
Many employers view discipline as their prerogative. And
discipline often is seen as warranted "punishment" for something an
employee did or failed to do. Missing from this line of thinking is
the reality that disciplinary action exists not merely to punish
but to change employee behavior or reinforce work rules and
standards of conduct.
Disciplinary action also provides a useful measure of proof
against claims of discrimination or unfair or unlawful treatment.
For example, let's say you terminate an employee for violating the
company's attendance policy. The employee may claim he didn't know
the policy existed or didn't appreciate the fact his latest absence
could result in termination. He may claim the real reason for his
termination was because of his race or age or because he recently
complained about an allegedly unlawful practice...
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