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Use progressive discipline system to build documentation that justifies termination

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in Firing,Human Resources

Progressive discipline systems force supervisors to follow the steps in the process, which helps employers document what happened and when.

That can come in handy if the employee files an EEOC complaint and then claims she was fired for doing so. Your disciplinary record can counter that claim by showing the employee was already on the way to discharge before she complained.

Recent case: Loretta, of Taiwanese origin, worked as an administrative assistant at the University of Texas. The university has a progressive discipline system. Loretta received a series of poor performance reviews and warnings. She was warned in writing about failing to follow her supervisor’s instructions and for disregarding policies and procedures. At one point, she got a paid day off to consider whether she wanted to keep her job or face termination.

Loretta opted to recommit her efforts to the job, but went out on medical leave. Then she filed an EEOC discrimination complaint.

Meanwhile, her boss noticed that Loretta was logging into the computer system and warned her not to, since she was supposedly too ill to work. After being caught several more times, she was terminated.

Then Loretta sued, alleging retaliation for filing the EEOC complaint.

The court dismissed her claim, noting that there was ample proof that Loretta was well on her way to being fired before she ever filed the complaint. (Wang v. University of Texas, No. 04-13-00065, Court of Appeals of Texas, 2013)

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