Q. One of our employees has received glowing reviews for 10 years, but she’s been working on her personal business on company time for the past two years. The employee’s supervisor never addressed this issue in writing, and now her new supervisor wants to fire the employee without any documentation or counseling. Can the supervisor do this without any expectation of “trouble” from the employee? — J.O., Texas
A. It’s not clear whether your supervisor had addressed the issue verbally with the employee, or anyone had ever addressed the issue at all. If the employee has never been told that she couldn’t conduct personal business on company time, the best course would be to advise the employee of that now, and then tell her she’ll be terminated if it happens again. Document the conversation.
Other issues to consider are: (1) whether the company has a written policy that applies to this situation and (2) whether other employees have engaged in similar conduct in the past and, if so, how they have been treated. It is important to follow your own policies and to treat employees consistently.