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Don’t sweat details if your discipline decision is sound

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Do you worry about every detail of discipline and make sure all the facts are completely accurate? Your concern may be needless.

Employers certainly have to be fair when disciplining, but judges know HR departments aren’t courts of law—and they don’t demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Recent case: Mall security guard Deborah Cook sued, claiming she had been terminated after complaining about sex discrimination. She said her supervisor made offensive comments and then had her fired.

Her employer said it never fired Cook, but merely transferred her after receiving complaints from co-workers that she was hard to work with. Seeking to counter that story, Cook tried to exclude from evidence internal memos about her deficiencies.

The court refused and focused on management’s belief that the memos contained sufficient justification to transfer Cook. (Cook v. IPC Inter­na­tional, No. 09-275, SD IL, 2011)

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