What steps should a supervisor take prior to disciplining an employee?

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

A supervisor should implement effective employee management practices prior to taking disciplinary action. The supervisor should have all pertinent information regarding the situation, including:

  • The nature of the issue and the scenario involved;
  • Any applicable internal policies;
  • How other employees have been treated for engaging in the same or similar behavior; and
  • The employee's discipline history.

At times, a matter that could be resolved by implementing discipline may be resolved informally. Certain alternatives to discipline could achieve the goal of improving poor performance or deterring misconduct or unacceptable workplace behavior. Alternatives to discipline include:

  • Coaching;
  • Training;
  • Counseling; or
  • Accommodations.

If a supervisor opts for these types of management options, then he or she must ensure that the alternatives to discipline are implemented in a manner that is consistent with internal policies and practices, and in a way that does not violate any federal, state or municipal laws.