Should veiled lawsuit threat affect how we approach disciplining difficult worker?

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Q. We have an employee who has been a constant source of drama and complaints within her department. When her manager sat down with her recently to discuss an exceptionally disruptive confrontation she had with another co-worker, she “casually” mentioned that she has been trying to get pregnant, and “wonders if the stress of the job” could be the reason she has been unable to conceive. Her job mainly consists of filing and performing basic database updates. It rarely, if ever, falls under the category of high pressure. Obviously, we should have let her go a long time ago, but she’s in a protected class and my boss was worried about repercussions. What are we supposed to do now?

A. You should treat her the same as you would if you did not know that she was trying to get pregnant. However, tread carefully.

If she engages in inappropriate conduct (for which you would discipline any employee), you should take appropriate disciplinary action. If her conduct continues, you can continue to discipline her in accordance with your regular practice and terminate her.

Be careful not to treat her more harshly than you would treat any nonpregnant employee. Make sure you prepare contemporaneous documentation of her performance problems and how you addressed them.

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