Q. I am working with my supervisory staff on how to deal with a difficult employee. He insists he has the right to be represented when his supervisor wants to discuss a performance problem. He recently asked to have another employee come with him for a meeting with his supervisor regarding his poor attendance. We are a nonunion company. Any suggestions?
A. The simple answer to your question is that your employee does not have a right to be represented in meetings with his supervisor.
How you respond to his request depends to some degree on style. One option is to have your supervisor deny the employee’s request for a representative and have the meeting. If the employee refuses to attend, have the supervisor explain that he is being given a direct order, and if he continues to refuse, he can be suspended or terminated for insubordination.
Another option would be to have your employee meet with his supervisor and a person from HR. Perhaps the presence of an HR representative will help defuse the situation or educate the employee.
Some employers will let the employee have someone else in the room, and in many instances, they find it helpful. (This usually depends upon whom the employee selects to join him or her in the meeting.) If you are so inclined, I would recommend having two employer representatives as well. Again, this is not required and is something you should consider as a matter of policy.
This is a subject that you should discuss with your labor counsel, and you should be particularly sensitive to this issue if you are concerned about union organizing.
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