Employee discipline, above all else, must be consistent. When it's not, mistakes put employers at risk of messy discrimination claims.
That's why HR professionals need to be alert to supervisors who fire, demote or discipline employees because they're trying to send a message to the rest of the staff, said Michael Fox, employment-law attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Austin, Texas.
"When you hear those words ‘Let's make an example out of someone,' red flags should shoot miles high," said Fox.
Employers who set out to send such messages typically end up being extra harsh on the targeted employee. And if that employee is in a protected class (minority, female, etc.), the inconsistent discipline could trigger a discrimination claim.