Employers sometimes think that if they have a broad workplace rule in place, they have to punish everyone who breaks that rule exactly the same way. That’s not necessarily true.
The key is to make sure you can document why one employee deserved a more severe punishment than another. Possible factors include past conduct and the severity of the workplace rule breach.
Two cases illustrate how to go about individualizing punishment.
Recent case: Venus Blackshear and her domestic partner worked for the same company, Interstate Brands, in a Wonder Bread bakery. They held the same position and often worked the same shift. Blackshear is black; her female partner is white.
The company has a strict policy prohibiting violence, harassment and threats. One day, Blackshear and her partner got into a shouting match at work. Witnesses said Blackshear used curse words and threatened to knock out her partner. Blackshear was terminated, but ...(register to read more)