If you carefully document disciplinary actions and punish all employees fairly, courts will usually uphold your decisions. That’s because an employee who challenges the reason for her discharge has to show that the reason wasn’t legitimate—that, rather, the rationale was merely a pretext for some form of discrimination. And it takes more than just coincidence to do that.
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Some employees refuse to accept their employer’s solution to their discrimination complaints. They demand more action. Sometimes those employees begin working against their supervisors, perhaps assuming that any disciplinary action would constitute retaliation. Do you have to cave to their demands?
Sure, everyone knows that employees who make a good-faith complaint alleging some form of discrimination are protected from retaliation. But that doesn’t mean that no one can criticize the employee for making the complaint in a way that’s out of line. If he or she is discourteous, you can and should put an end to the disruptive behavior.
Some employees have heard through the legal grapevine that if the going gets tough at work, they can just get going. They believe they can up and quit—and then turn around and sue, claiming that they had no choice but to leave because they were suffering retaliation for taking some protected action. This is an example of “constructive discharge.” But conditions have to be pretty onerous before the tactic works.