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Understanding the limits of disciplining employees as an employer

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Employment Law for Employers |

Every employer has different approaches and strategies to handle employee misconduct. Nonetheless, no matter what disciplinary actions you apply in your workplace, you must know your limits under the laws. This will help you avoid claims, such as wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination and other labor law violations.

Compliance with laws on disciplining employees

As an employer, you must comply with federal, state and local laws when disciplining your employees. This includes adhering to employment contracts, collective bargaining agreements and distinct laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and anti-discrimination laws.

Consistency among all employees

You must apply your disciplinary rules consistently among all employees. Moreover, disciplinary actions should be fair and based on objective criteria. Personal biases or emotions should not influence your disciplinary decisions. Singling out an individual or group for different treatment can lead to discrimination claims.

Fair investigation process

During misconduct investigations, you must provide your employees with sufficient explanation of what they did wrong and an opportunity to tell their side of the story before issuing any disciplinary action.

Discreet disciplinary actions

You must discreetly deal with employee misconduct to protect the privacy of the employee involved. Public reprimands can lead to embarrassment and potential legal issues.

Proportionate reprimand or corrective action

The disciplinary action should be proportionate to the nature of the infraction. Minor mistakes typically warrant less severe discipline than major misconduct. Hence, you must investigate employee misconduct carefully to ensure you will apply the appropriate disciplinary action.

Controlling what you can as an employer

As an employer, it is crucial for you to be aware of and observe the laws governing employee discipline to avoid any potential repercussions. If you must, you can seek advice from a knowledgeable employment law attorney to implement fair, consistent and legally compliant disciplinary policies and practices.