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Keep detailed, contemporaneous records to show you are vigilant and consistent about discipline

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Lots of discipline takes place out of sight of most employees. Employees may be reprimanded or otherwise punished for inappropriate behavior without co-workers ever finding out. Sometimes, even the employee who raised the original problem—for example, harassment or an inappropriate joke—may not know the outcome.

If that employee later sues, you must be prepared to show how you responded behind the scenes.

Recent case: The Weather Channel fired Elise for poor performance. She sued, alleging that she had worked in a racially hostile environment.

But the cable network got the case dismissed when it showed that every incident Elise cited as an example of racial harassment had been dealt with through discipline. The court said the Weather Channel was a vigilant employer and that it didn’t matter that Elise was unaware of its consistent stance on disciplining harassers. (Lawless v. Weather Channel, No. 11-2076, 2nd Cir., 2012)

Advice: Here’s how to track “invisible” discipline. Start by maintaining a master list of all incoming complaints. Follow each complaint through the system, from initial investigation to conclusion. Then go back and note the investigation result and the disciplinary outcome on the master list.

This process makes it easy to pull together statistics if the EEOC asks. It also serves as a road map for your internal processes. Think of it like a police chain of custody. At all times, you should be able to track each complaint’s progress.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ruhi Desai November 20, 2012 at 12:58 am

Your article is quite informative and resourceful in the context of an aware leadership managing an organization or a company. There are certain areas leaders tend to ignore or are not able to comprehend enough to classify them as potential risk to the organization. The one area, which tops the list, is the inability to assess measure and improve the productivity of the employees in the organization. Your article definitely highlights the issues and solutions related to a vigilant leadership.
Please visit our blogs to share your views with us
Thanks and Regards,
Ruhi Desai,
Senior Business Development Manager @ Sapience Analytics Pvt Ltd


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