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Employment Discipline and Discharge


  • A growing consensus is that high turnover rates are unhealthy and a disservice to the organization. True
  • Wrongful discharge claims are difficult, time consuming and expensive to defend. True
  1. Employment At-Will
    1. The common law employment at-will doctrine provides that a certain employment is either because of the will of the employer or employee. While the employer can fire the employee at any given time, the employee can also quit the job without the need of an explanation unless a work contract between them exists. This kind of employment is challenged by public policy considerations or good faith and fair hearing.
  2. Public Policy Issues

Public policy provides that the employee employed under employment at-will shall not be terminated for reasons that go against public policy.

  1. Whistle Blowing-employment Discipline and Discharge

A whistle blower is someone that exposes a crime or any unlawful act by reporting the matter to relevant authorities.

  1. Retaliatory Discharge
    1. To protect an employee from retaliatory behaviour, some states provide that the reported claim must not be subjected to ultimate proof, the employee is free to consult an attorney over a wage claim, make a complaint under the Safe Employee Act, file a civil rights and unfair labour practices complaints, and more all which may be interfering with the employee rights.
    2. In the event an employee sues, the same employee has the burden of proof.
    3. Fairness: The Ultimate Test
    4. Before terminating an employee, a supervisor must check the following
  • If the termination is violating any policy
  • If it is a violation of public policy
  • If it is retaliatory in nature
  • If it is arbitrary and capricious
  • If it discriminates the employee on the basis of age, gender, disability, creed, race, marital status, colour, religion, nationality or any other discrimination such as an employee that filed a law suit.
  • If it goes against any employee-employer contract weather written or oral
  • If the termination makes sense of the reasons given for discharge.
  • If it is fixed before any appeal is presented.
  • If it interferes with any human rights of the employee
  1. Defending a claim of unfair discharge
  2. If an employee is unfairly discharged, they need to have:
  • Meeting minutes
  • Reports whether typed or handwritten
  • Personnel file
  • Audio tapes or videos with evidence
  • Personnel handbook
  • Letters, cards or notes from the public to the employee
  • Procedure books from the employee department
  • Employees or supervisors willing to testify orally
  1. Termination-employment Discipline and Discharge
  2. Before terminating an employee, discipline must be provided by oral or written counselling, written counselling with suspension and written counselling with termination.
  3. Termination for cause
  4. An employee can be terminated if the organization provides sufficient proof that they are experiencing financial difficulty and can no longer retain the employee.
  5. Effective Hiring Practices
  6. The 13 hiring practices are:
  • An organization needs to have clear policies and procedures on hiring, discipline and termination.
  • Include appropriate language on the revision, addition or deletion of the provided policies and procedures
  • Determine a realistic qualification of all employees before they can be hired.
  • Practise precaution on the person being hired so that they are not a hazard to others.
  • Review the work history of an employee before hiring them.
  • Look up if the state has any provisions on hiring people with previous criminal records.
  • The job applicant should be interviewed twice, first by human resource and then by the relevant supervisor
  • Ask the applicant for references and seek their permission with a release form before going ahead to make phone calls to the said references for confirmation.
  • Provide every new employee with a handbook and a job description. One signed copy of each should go into the employee file as evidence that they were presented with the said items.
  • Develop performance evaluations to reward good work and give instruction on where improvement is needed.
  • Develop a clear disciplinary action policy
  • Ensure that supervisors are well trained on interviewing techniques, disciplinary action and proper evaluation by providing in-service education programs.
  • The employment contract should be written in appropriate language.
  1. Clear Communication-employment Discipline and Discharge

The employer should inform a new employee that their employment is at will and that it can be terminated by either of them at any given time. The employee however should be aware of disciplinary actions and grounds for termination within the organisation.