It’s OK to occasionally deviate from the disciplinary process outlined in your—if you leave yourself some wiggle room by explaining that some infractions are so serious they warrant immediate discharge.
Recent case: Melinda, who is black, was an apartment leasing manager. Her job was to get apartments ready and only lease those that had been prepared properly. The handbook said that employees would receive a warning before being terminated for violating rules.
Melinda was fired after a supervisor discovered she had rented apartments that weren’t ready. Melinda sued, alleging race discrimination and violation of the warning provision.
The court tossed out her lawsuit. It explained that the handbook said deviation from the rules could happen and that Melinda hadn’t shown that nonblack employees always got a warning, either. (Hamilton v. AVPM, No. 14-10373, 5th Cir., 2014)