If they could choose one management function to avoid, many managers would choose disciplining employees. In today's litigious society, individuals don't think twice about seeking solace in court for perceived inequities, so many employment lawsuits are filed by employees who believe they were disciplined unfairly.
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Q. I know we have to provide milk-expression breaks for new moms, and we do. But now a new mother is having her mother bring the baby in twice a day to nurse. These breaks go more than 30 minutes as the baby is passed around, etc. Can we just tell her to express and refrigerate the milk?
You probably have some general rules about what employees are and are not allowed to do. If you’re smart, your rules are flexible enough for you to tailor punishment that fits the crime. Faced with such inherent ambiguity, be sure to document the specifics of all discipline.
The DOL generally takes a dim view of any attempt to negotiate away employees’ rights under the FLSA. For example, unions can’t say “no thanks” to the minimum wage or overtime pay during collective bargaining. However, there’s a difference between losing rights through the bargaining process and accepting a settlement that resolves conflicting wage claims.