requests and the employer’s responses is maintained which will assist in ensuring
Approaches to Discipline
How employers handle disciplinary matters can have a significant impact on their
exposure to legal claims, as well as productivity and workplace morale. From an employer’s
perspective, employee discipline generally should be handled with three primary goals in
mind: (1) correcting substandard work performance or conduct; (2) establishing expectations
of employees; and (3) minimizing risk of employee claims. The following identifies
important considerations in handling employee discipline.
Employers should be careful not to promise “progressive discipline” either
in writing or orally, unless the employer is committed to following such a process.
By avoiding such promises, an employer retains the discretion to discipline in a
manner it deems fit with less risk of claims.
Employers should take efforts to ensure that discipline is handled
consistently. Similarly situated employees who have similar performance issues or
engaged in similar misconduct should generally be treated the same. Consistent equal
treatment is a good business practice and is likely to have a beneficial effect on
employee morale. Moreover, an employer that treats employees consistently,
regardless of protected category or for other reasons, is less likely to be sued and
substantially more likely to win a suit that is filed.
In maintaining an effective disciplinary process, employers should be
aware that if the disciplinary process is not documented, they will have difficulty
proving it happened. If litigation ensues, the employer and employee may dispute