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Track discipline by type, punish everyone fairly

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employers that mete out similar discipline for similar kinds of misconduct rarely lose subsequent lawsuits, even if the court considering the case thinks the punishment was excessive or a poor business decision.

What matters is evenhanded application of the rules, not whether the rule is good or bad.

Recent case: Prakash Naik, who is of Indian national origin and over age 50, worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative. He was fired when his supervisor learned he had been falsifying his call records.

Naik sued, alleging national-origin and age discrimination.

But his employer pointed out that it had fired every other salesperson who falsified call logs, too. That was enough for the court to toss the case. (Naik v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, No. 09-2960, 7th Cir., 2010)

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