It happens: A supervisor wants to discipline an employee, but HR or upper management nixes the idea because it knows something the boss doesn’t. Perhaps the employee had suffered discrimination in the past and was placed in a new position for a fresh start. Be prepared for legal fallout if you wind up disciplining the supervisor.
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If an internal investigation reveals that the employee whose complaint launched the process was also engaged in improper behavior (or was, in fact, the person to blame for the situation), don’t hesitate to punish appropriately. As long as you act in good faith, a court is unlikely to conclude the punishment was retaliation for complaining in the first place.
Employees often reveal their true feelings during an exit interview, and they frequently wind up burning bridges in the process. Smart employers take notes during exit interviews, especially if they hear something that makes them wonder whether the employee should ever have been hired in the first place, let alone rehired for any future openings.
Here’s a tip that can save you from a nasty retaliation lawsuit following the transfer of an employee who has claimed sexual harassment. If she’s the one requesting the move, be sure to document that request very carefully. She may later claim that the transfer was retaliation for complaining.