The Illinois toll authority settled Robert Merheb's discrimination charge by giving him a new job. The agreement also said that if Merheb committed any infraction, the employer would follow itspolicy.
The policy called for an oral reprimand for minor incidents, then a written reprimand, a suspension without pay and, finally, discharge "when other corrective measures have failed or if the gravity of the offense warrants it."
Merheb had run-ins with his new supervisor, and six months into the job, criticism from her one day caused Merheb to blow up. His face turned red, his eyes bulged out, he screamed and threatened the supervisor. One employee was afraid Merheb would "go postal."
The next workday, his supervisors met with the HR officer and in-house counsel, and they agreed Merheb should be fired for "gross insubordination, disrespectful conduct [and] threatening behavior."
Merheb sued, claiming breach of contract. He argued that the toll authority didn't follow its progressive discipline policy, which required only an oral warning for his first offense. The courts threw out the case, calling his argument ridiculous. Under that reasoning, if Merheb had killed his supervisor, he could only be given an oral reprimand. (Merheb v. Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, No. 00-2547, 7th Cir., 2001)
Advice: In these unstable times, take threats seriously. Don't let fear of a lawsuit keep you from protecting your workers. Firing an employee for threatening behavior isn't discrimination if you take the same action against any potentially dangerous worker. When your employees are seriously frightened by a co-worker, failing to take action will get you in more trouble.
Make sure your progressive discipline policy also states, as this one did, that you can and will immediately fire an employee for serious misconduct.
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/813/react-quickly-to-employee-threats-dont-be-wedded-to-discipline-policy "