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You don’t have to be right on discipline—just honest

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in Compensation and Benefits,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Disciplining employees often requires making tough calls, especially when the disciplinary action is based on the word of co-workers.

You may be forced to choose whom to believe. Don’t be tempted to ignore the complaint just because you can’t be sure who’s right. As long as you are honest, courts will be reluctant to second-guess you.

Recent case: Tamara Smith, who is black, worked as a nurse for the Regency Hospital of Toledo when two co-workers complained to management that Smith had shown them graphic cell-phone photos of a patient’s genital warts. The hospital fired Smith and she sued, alleging race discrimination.

The court tossed out her case. It said that as long as Regency believed the co-workers were telling the truth and such behavior violated employer rules, it didn’t matter whether Smith actually had shown the photos. (Wentzler & Smith v. Regency Hospital of Toledo, No. 3:08-CV-854, ND OH, 2009)

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