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Understanding Progressive Discipline David Vestal Deputy Director ISAC (515) 244-7181 CCMS Supervisors Training Best Inns & Suites.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Progressive Discipline David Vestal Deputy Director ISAC (515) 244-7181 CCMS Supervisors Training Best Inns & Suites."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Progressive Discipline David Vestal Deputy Director ISAC (515) CCMS Supervisors Training Best Inns & Suites Des Moines June 5, 2002

2 Employee Discipline Discipline refers to corrective actions taken by a supervisor when an employee does not abide by organizational rules or standards.

3 Discipline problems come in three categories: Attendance - unexcused absences, chronic absenteeism or excessive tardiness Poor performance - failure to complete work assignments, producing substandard work product, failure to meet established work requirements Misconduct - theft, insubordination, intoxication, falsifying records

4 Exceptions to this at-will employment doctrine : 1)an employee handbook; 2)a union contract; 3)promise made by the employer; 4)where public policy prohibits termination 5)an actual employment contract 6) the law protects the employee’s job

5 The board of supervisors has ultimate authority over your disciplinary policies.

6 Progressive Discipline The county attempts to correct an employee’s behavior by imposing increasingly severe penalties for each infraction.

7 Progressive discipline has definite advantages:  Reassures employees - they know where they stand  Assures employees that misconduct by other employees will be addressed  Helps justify any employment decision Progressive discipline also has clear disadvantages:  Difficult to administer - a lot of documentation  Requires a formal, written policy  Locks employer in to certain responses;  Alters at-will status

8 Progressive Discipline Must Be: Immediate: To be accepted, discipline must quickly follow the offense. Understood: It is more likely that the discipline will be seen as fair if it is proceeded by clear warnings Consistent: Fair treatment demands that punishment be consistent Impersonal: Penalties should be connected to behavior, not the personality of the violator

9 Any system of discipline must include:  Rules that are work-related  Adequate notice  Timely and fair investigation  Substantial evidence  Equal treatment  Penalties in proportion to the offense

10 Performance Reviews  Job-related  Consistent and in a timely fashion  Focus on behaviors  Adequate Notice

11 Weingarten Principles: Whenever the employee believes a meeting may lead to discipline Employee can request representation before or during the meeting After the request, the employer has three choices:  Grant the request and wait for the other employee  Deny the request and end the meeting  Give the employee the choice of ending the meeting or proceeding without the representative Employees must ask for their Weingarten rights.

12 Anderson v. Douglas and Lomason 1995 Case  Employee was fired for possessing company property  Employee sued stating that he was entitled to the progressive discipline policy  Company had a disclaimer in employee handbook Court’s Decision  No contract created by the handbook  Progressive discipline language was not mandatory  Employee was an employee at will

13 Jones v. Lake Park Care Center 1997 Case  Employee was summarily terminated  Company’s progressive discipline policy required a written warning  Handbook was sufficiently definite to create a contract.  She was awarded $370,000 in actual and punitive damages

14 Skipping Steps “If a problem is serious, the County may identify the appropriate step to initiate and not utilize the normal sequence.”

15 Oral Warning  Point out the unacceptable behavior  Explain the purpose for the rule  Explain how the employee’s behavior is causing a problem  Give the employee a chance to respond  Consequences  Specific recommendations  Express confidence in the employee  Document the meeting

16 Written Warning  Identify your expectations  Explain the consequences of continued misconduct  Document the written warning  Employee should acknowledge it  Place a copy in the employee’s personnel file

17 Rules for Drafting Good Documents:  Be truthful and accurate  Review the document  Have someone else review it  Destroy all drafts  Contemporaneous is best  Memorialize earlier undocumented events

18 Documentation Do’s  Be Specific with words, dates and actions  State objectives for future performance  State the consequences of not improving  Have the employee sign to acknowledge receipt

19 Documentation Don’ts  Don’t delay in documenting the discipline  Don’t write comments that might indicate bias or prejudice  Don’t share disciplinary information who does not have a need to know  Don’t make accusations without proof

20 Suspension  Paid or unpaid suspension  This time out gives the employee the opportunity to review his behavior  If salaried, don’t discipline by giving unpaid time off for periods of less than one week

21 Termination meetings You should:  Prepare what you will say ahead of time  Give an adequate reason for the discharge  Allow the employee to have his or her say  Make it clear that the decision is final  Briefly run through the benefits  Explain your county’s job reference policy  Collect county property from the employee

22 Termination  If terminated for reasons of dishonesty, immorality or illegal conduct, the employee is entitled to a “name-clearing hearing.”  A person must be notified of their opportunity for such a hearing.  A post-termination hearing is sufficient.

23 Addendum “The County reserves the right to conduct any investigation that it deems necessary to determine whether an employee has engaged in conduct warranting discipline.”


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