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Tell supervisors: Enforce attendance rules equally—or prepare for court

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in Discrimination and Harassment,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

If your organization uses progressive discipline to enforce your attendance policy, caution supervisors against making exceptions for some employees unless it’s clear the absence shouldn’t have been counted against them (for example, the absence was an FMLA-related reason or part of an approved ADA accommodation).

Instead, have them apply the rules firmly and evenhandedly.

Recent case: Carrie Watson worked for Lowe’s until she was fired for poor attendance under the company’s progressive discipline, no-fault attendance program. In four months, she missed work or was late 16 times.

She claimed she had been singled out for termination for two reasons—because she is a woman and because she had complained about two male co-workers who allegedly harassed her about women’s rights.

But the retailer was able to show the court that at around the same time it had fired a male co-worker for the same number of absences that Watson had incurred. The court dismissed Watson’s case because she couldn’t prove someone outside her protected class had been treated more leniently. (Watson v. Lowe’s Home Centers, No. 04-70491, ED MI, 2009)

Final note: Have someone in HR spot-check that supervisors are handling attendance fairly. Check time records, match them up with attendance policy “strikes” and have supervisors explain any discrepancies. A no-fault attendance plan won’t work if some employees are allowed to arrive late or miss work, while others are held to the rules.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pheobe July 12, 2012 at 5:24 am

Or instead, let Managers manage their employees on a case by case basis and decide for themselves if someone’s attendance is tolerable under business conditions, and their employment is of benefit to the company. People are not cut from a cookie cutter.

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