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Have a progressive discipline system? Use it every time

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Performance Reviews

Employers that bend their disciplinary rules after an employee files a discrimination or harassment complaint almost guarantee they will face a jury if the employee sues. Courts often see such deviations as evidence of retaliation.

Recent case: Merilyn Williams worked for a collection agency and got steady raises until she complained several times about the conduct of one of the owners. Almost immediately after the final complaint, she was called to a meeting. When she refused to answer any questions, the agency fired her.

She sued for retaliation. Unfortunately for the collection agency, it seems that company disciplinary rules dictated progressive discipline. Since she had never been in trouble before, discharge wasn’t an option, according to the company’s own rules. A jury will decide if Williams experienced retaliation. (EEOC v. CTI, No. 09-C-5849, ND IL, 2011)

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