Consistent discipline: Your best defense against firing bias

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

Some employers’ policies are stricter than others, such as zero-tolerance policies against theft. But it’s more important how you apply your policy than what the policy says.

If you establish super-strict rules, yet apply those rules consistently, it doesn’t matter if the rules are Draconian (at least from a legal-liability standpoint). What matters is that you apply the rules in good faith to everyone. Get that message across to your managers.

Recent case: A trucking company’s strict anti-theft rule warned employees that converting any freight to personal use was a termination offense. So it decided to fire dock worker Milton Jones after he took a damaged water bottle from a case and handed it to a co-worker. Jones sued for race discrimination, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case. It reasoned that an evenhanded application of the no-theft policy, even if that policy was extreme, was a valid reason for the discharge. (Jones v. Overnite Transportation, No. 05-20363, 5th Cir., 2006)  

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