Rebellion after dispute resolution? Discipline

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in Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,People Management

Some employees refuse to accept their employer’s solution to their discrimination complaints. They demand more action.

Sometimes those employees begin working against their supervisors, perhaps assuming that any disciplinary action would constitute retaliation. Do you have to cave to their demands?

Not necessarily. You can take appropriate disciplinary action to restore workplace order.

Recent case: José Davis worked as a truck driver, delivering and setting up medical equipment. When he observed what he thought was a noose hanging on a co-worker’s bulletin board, he wrote a letter to a vice president and several managers, complaining that the noose created a racially hostile work environment.

A supervisor immediately investigated. The co-worker said he did have a six-inch length of string tied with a slipknot and a loop at the end on his bulletin board. He said he used it to relieve stress by placing the loop around his finger and pulling it tight. Convinced nonetheless that the noose was disruptive, the supervisor removed it and ordered sensitivity training in the facility to prevent further potentially offensive conduct.

Davis wasn’t satisfied—he wanted heads to roll. But management refused to fire anyone. Then Davis, according to other supervisors, began ignoring their voice mail messages. Management called a meeting to discuss the breakdown in communications. Davis refused to attend and was fired for insubordination.

He sued, alleging retaliation.

The court dismissed the case, reasoning that Davis had been disciplined for legitimate reasons—refusing to attend a meeting—and not for complaining about the noose. (Davis v. Omni-Care, No. 1:09-CV-00357, ND OH, 2010)

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