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Employee Right - Discipline

Discipline may be appropriate and necessary for some continuing or serious performance or work-related problems. Discipline is often considered a form of "punishment," but that need not be the case. While discipline can have negative consequences and must warn about possible future consequences, it can be a powerful motivator for positive change. The employer's discipline policy should be uniformly applied.

Disciplinary step— e.g., a caution notice, a strict warning, or immediate termination—might be taken by the employer under the following circumstances:

  • Unsatisfactory job performance
  • Misuse or abuse of work time
  • Misuse or abuse of workplace propert
  • Unfit for work
  • Use of profane or abusive language
  • Absenteeism or tardiness
  • Sexual or race related harassment
  • Insubordination - direct refusal to obey a supervisory directive
  • Creating a disturbance
  • Threatening or intimidating others, physical confrontation
  • Theft or misappropriation of office property
  • Unethical conduct
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Sleeping while on duty
  • Violation of the Drug-Free Workplace/Substance Abuse Prevention Policy
  • Refusal to cooperate or provide requested information during an investigation
  • Falsification of reason for leave
  • Fraud or deception in securing employment

If a problem develops, employers generally issue a first warning notice to the employee. Further action can include a two-week probationary period, or suspension. A third warning often results in termination of employment, but it depends upon the policy of the employer. The employment may be terminated at any time (as most companies follow the “employment at will” doctrine), regardless of prior warnings.

However, employees cannot be disciplined for whistle-blowing on their employer’s illegal conducts, as part of a discrimination practice or as retaliation for asking for compensation. Depending upon the federal and state law, employees have a right to file a charge with a government agency, sue the employer, or both.

know your rights now!