By Amy Beth Miller, editor of The Organized Executive
When an employee breaks a rule or fails to follow your direction, you take what you think is the right action by disciplining or dismissing the person. You’d like to think that will be the end of your problems with the employee, but it could be only the beginning.
If you mishandle the situation, the employee could sue and accuse you of harassment, discrimination, retaliation or creating a hostile work environment. And as any lawyer will tell you, by the time you go to court, you’ve already lost. The cost of defending your actions—not to mention the toll it will take in time away from your daily work—can be enormous.
I reviewed scores of court decisions when I edited a publication on employment law, to find the cases employers needed to know about. Early on, I would often discard cases because I thought “Surely this is an anomaly. Most managers would know not to do that.” But month after month I saw examples of managers who crossed the line, doing things like spanking an employee.
Then I saw scores of cases where the managers clearly attempted to do the right thing, and they wound up in court anyway. They followed their organization’s policy, but that turned out to be illegal. Or they took action that seemed like common sense, like docking pay for a costly mistake, but it was illegal. Or they tried to overlook a problem employee, hoping the situation would go away, but it always got worse and they ended up in court anyway.
As a manager, you need to know what you can do when you discipline or discharge an employee, what you can’t do and how to properly document your actions. Don’t miss the Oct. 16 audio conference Legal Dos and Don’ts of Employee Discipline. In just one hour, two attorneys will tell you how to handle common employee discipline problems, typical scenarios that lead to lawsuits, which popular policies are illegal and more. Register today, and don’t risk making a costly mistake.
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