Overview: Employee discipline can improve communication with employees and foster positive outcomes - but only if used effectively. An employee's professional development may be aided by any number of measures, including targeted employee training and development or a referral to counseling. However, disciplinary action should also be used to ensure compliance with work rules and to promote workplace safety. In addition, employee discipline is a natural next step if an employee has not complied with a performance improvement plan (PIP) or action plan.
Although progressive discipline may be adequate to address many situations, at times immediate suspension or termination must be used. Employers need the proper tools to tackle commonplace workplace discipline situations, such as poor attendance, substance abuse and workplace theft. These tools include a variety of resources to aid in conducting discipline successfully, including internal policies and procedures and customized warnings.
Trends: States continue to enact legislation enlarging employee protections regarding an array of activities, ranging from smoking to voting to weapons possession. In addition, employees continue to make external agency complaints or file court claims under statutes with antiretaliation or whistleblower protections, such as federal and state False Claims Acts. Depending on state law, employers may be restricted from taking a number of actions during a disciplinary investigation, e.g., employee drug or polygraph testing. In other instances, an employer's failure to adequately discipline an employee or to document the results of a disciplinary investigation may pose greater liability problems, such as in the case of an external agency probe or an employment discrimination lawsuit.
Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor
A federal jury in California has awarded nearly $11 million in damages to the former general counsel of Bio-Rad Laboratories in a whistleblower lawsuit involving potential bribery in China. The jury found Sanford Wadler engaged in protected activity when he sent an internal memo calling for an investigation into possible bribery that could involve senior management.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections under the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance, effective January 22, 2017; enhanced to improve comprehensiveness with the addition of retaliation protections in Los Altos, Malibu and Santa Clara.
Employers may face a general strike as soon as February 17. Activists and strike organizers are seeking to demonstrate against the policies of the current administration and congressional majority leaders.
Updated to include forthcoming retaliation protections under Philadelphia's wage equity ordinance.
A resource that guides employers on how to discipline misconduct related to marijuana use has been added. Contradictory laws across federal and state jurisdictions have complicated these types of employment decisions.
This resource guides employers on how to discipline misconduct related to marijuana use to address compliance concerns in jurisdictions that allow medical or recreational marijuana use.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued its Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs, which applies to both public and private employers. The resource is advisory only.
Updated to reflect the renaming of the DOJ Civil Rights Division's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Practices, effective January 18, 2017.
Updated to reflect amendments to the state concealed carry law, effective January 1, 2017.
Updated to incorporate the medical marijuana law, effective January 3, 2017.
HR and legal considerations regarding fair and consistent employee discipline. Advice on disciplining with effective results, no discrimination.