Disciplining employees what supervisors really need to know
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Disciplining Employees What Supervisors Really Need to Know. Presented by Jana Legako, J.D., PHR Gordon Cooper Technology Center Human Resources Director. Disciplining Employees What Supervisors Really Need to Know.

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Disciplining EmployeesWhat Supervisors Really Need to Know

Presented by

Jana Legako, J.D., PHR

Gordon Cooper Technology Center

Human Resources Director


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Disciplining EmployeesWhat Supervisors Really Need to Know

This presentation is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter. It is given with the understanding that Gordon Cooper Technology Center and its representative are not engaged in rendering legal services. If legal advice is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.


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Are You Guilty of Discrimination?

  • Discrimination

    • People in one group are treated differently than people from a different group


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Eight Areas of Protection for Employees

  • Race and Color

  • National Origin

  • Citizenship

  • Religion

  • Sex

  • Pregnancy

  • Age

  • Disability


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The Four Key Concepts of Disciplining Employees

1. Be consistent

2. Have a legitimate business reason for every decision

3. Document events

4. When in doubt, call an expert


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1. Be consistent

Employers have a duty of good faith and fair dealing which means…

Treat all employees fairly

Easiest way to prove you treat people fairly is to show you…

Treat them the same


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1. Be Consistent

  • Be consistent in documenting events to support decision to discipline or fire employee.

  • Document everyone’s action in order to prove that one person should be disciplined.


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1. Be consistent

Practical tip: If you single out employees for documentation or discipline, you are not treating them fairly, and you have violated your duty of good faith and fair dealing.


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2. Have a Legitimate Business Reason for Every Decision

It is perfectly legal for you to treat people differently if you have a Legitimate Business Reason.


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2. Legitimate Business Reasons Every Decision

  • Directly related to work

    • Performance

    • Company rules

    • Business conditions


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2. Legitimate Business Reason Every Decision

  • Be able to articulate a legitimate business reason for decisions made to:

    • Hire

    • Train

    • Promote

    • Discipline

    • Fire


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3. Document Events Every Decision

  • Write down what happens with your employees on a day-to-day basis

  • Document what you did and why you did it


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3. Document Events Every Decision

  • When to document

    • Use calendar or notebook to keep track of informal warnings

    • Employee makes a mistake – make a note on that date

    • If there is a consistent pattern of the same kinds of mistakes put in a warning or review


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3. Document Events Every Decision

  • When to document

    • Attach informal documentation to warning or review

    • Place in official personnel file

    • Best practice to get employees’ signatures on all important documents


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3. Document Events Every Decision

  • How to document

    • Write a disciplinary memo you would want a judge to see

    • List the objective, verifiable facts that led to the conclusion


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3. Document Events Every Decision

  • How to document

    • Don’t use subjective words

      • In order for employees to improve, they must know exactly what to do

    • Use clear, precise language

    • Avoid extremes


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Poor Wording Every Decision

Your are frequently tardy.

You don’t concentrate on your work.

You do not get along with co-workers.

You are irritable and refuse to communicate.

You abused sick leave.

Better Wording

You were 30 minutes late three times this week.

You made 29 typing errors on the letter of May 2.

You yelled at Chris Smith yesterday.

You locked yourself in your office and did not answer.

You have exceeded accrued sick leave.

3. Document Events


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4. When in Doubt, Call an Expert Every Decision

  • Experts should be consulted early on, before there is a problem

    • Company’s personnel department

    • Company’s legal department

    • Outside lawyer


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Contact Information Every Decision


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