Don’t discuss discipline with employees’ co-workers

Sometimes, keeping quiet is the best approach. That’s certainly true when you discipline or terminate employees for poor performance. Bad-mouthing an employee won’t do any good and may mean a needless lawsuit if the employee’s reputation suffers.

Recent case: Several employees working for a Texas school district complained about the treatment of special education students. They claim that the district then resorted to disciplining or transferring them while bad-mouthing them to other employees. They sued, claiming as public employees that they were entitled to a reputation-clearing hearing.

Fortunately for the school district, the employees did get several hearings in which they presented their side of the story. Their reputation claim was ultimately dismissed. Other claims remain. (Clemmer, et al., v. Irving Independent School District, No. 3:13-CV-4997, ND TX, 2014)