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Best Practices When Issuing Discipline and Terminations

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Best Practices When Issuing Discipline and Terminations

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If you ask any manager what their least favorite part of their job is, odds are one of the top answers will be about firing or reprimanding employees. Having to terminate or discipline an employee is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable and unpleasant parts of being a manager. In this webinar, Sean O'Donnell, one of G&A Partners' HR experts, will talk about some best practices and potential legal pitfalls for managers when issuing employee disciplinary actions and terminations.

If you ask any manager what their least favorite part of their job is, odds are one of the top answers will be about firing or reprimanding employees. Having to terminate or discipline an employee is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable and unpleasant parts of being a manager. In this webinar, Sean O'Donnell, one of G&A Partners' HR experts, will talk about some best practices and potential legal pitfalls for managers when issuing employee disciplinary actions and terminations.

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Best Practices When Issuing Discipline and Terminations

  1. 1. Discipline  &  Termina/on   for  Supervisors   G&A  August  2015  
  2. 2. ROLE  OF  THE  SUPERVISOR  
  3. 3. What  is  Your  Role  Related  to…   •  Repor/ng  problems?   •  Harassment  complaints   •  Confiden/ality?   •  Administra/ve  tasks   (paperwork)?   •  Giving  feedback  to   employees?  
  4. 4. Some  Tips   •  Socializing  with  Employees:  When  you  are  there,  everything  is   assumed  to  be  said  or  done  with  the  tacit  approval  of   management.     •  Get  to  know  and  care  about  your  employees,  but  balance   friendship  and  authority  so  you  can  s/ll:   Ø Review  performance   Ø Maintain  team  morale   Ø Maintain  confiden/ality     •  Set  regular  /mes  for  reviewing  performance.     Ø Otherwise  you  only  talk  about  problems.   •  Do  not  ever  discuss  employment  decisions  or  performance  with   other  employees.    
  5. 5. DISCIPLINE  &  TERMINATION   Supervisor  Training  
  6. 6. EEOC  Press  Release  7/19/2012   Hawaii  Healthcare    Professionals,  Inc  and  its  owner  have  been  ordered  to  pay   $193,236  to  a  woman  allegedly  fired    due  to  her  age.     •  The  company’s  owner,  Carolyn    Frutoz-­‐De  Harne,  ordered  the  2008  termina/on   of  Debra  Moreno,  a    then-­‐54-­‐year-­‐old  office  coordinator  at  its  Maui  facility,   according  to  the    EEOC.  The  termina/on  proceeded  despite    reports  by  the   facility’s  manager,  who  actually  hired  and  supervised  Moreno,    that  Moreno   was  a  thorough  and  efficient  worker.     •  Frutoz-­‐De  Harne  allegedly  ordered  that  Moreno    be  fired  a^er  telling  the   manager  that  Moreno  “looks  old,”  “sounds  old  on  the    telephone,”  and  is  “like   a  bag  of  bones.”  Frutoz-­‐De  Harne  also  allegedly  told  the  manager  that  Moreno   was  not  the  type  of  person  she  wanted  represen/ng  her  company,  the  EEOC   said.     •  A^er  the  termina/on,  the  manager  reported  the  ageist  comments  to  Moreno,   who  in  turn  filed  a  discrimina/on  charge  with    the  EEOC.”  
  7. 7. Lessons  from  Debra  Moreno     1.  Don’t  make  discriminatory  comments   2.  “Same-­‐actor  inference”  defense:  If  hired   and  terminated  by  the  same  person,   discrimina/on  is  unlikely   3.  Documenta/on  did  not  support  the   termina/on   4.  Supervisor  said  too  much  to  the  employee  
  8. 8. Discipline  &  the  Law   •  EEO  Laws  -­‐  Discrimina/on   •  Consistency  and  Fairness   •  Retalia/on   •  NLRA  –  complaints  and  unions   •  Worker’s  Compensa/on   •  Unemployment   •  Wrongful  Discharge  
  9. 9. Protected  Groups   • Race • Color • National origin • Religion • Sex/Pregnancy/ Sexual orientation • Age • Disability • Genetic information • Others by State/ City
  10. 10. Consistency  &  Fairness   Always…   •  Address  bad  behavior  promptly   •  Treat  similar  viola/ons  similarly   •  Discipline  appropriate  to  the  viola/on   •  Follow  policy  (check  handbook)   But…   •  Only  discipline  when  necessary  
  11. 11. EEOC  Press  Release  4/5/2011   Federal  Agency  Charged  Black  Tanzanian  Network  Analyst  Was  Fired  While   White  Counterpart  Was  Merely  Disciplined   •  Broadband  Company  Pays  $60,000  To  Sejle  EEOC  Race  And  Na/onal   Origin  Discrimina/on  Suit   •  In  its  lawsuit,  (Case  No.:  1:10-­‐CV-­‐03106),  the  EEOC  charged  that  a  black   Tanzanian  network  analyst  was  fired  for  leaving  work  30  minutes   early.     •  However,  a  similarly  situated  white  network  analyst  received  only  a   wrijen  discipline  a^er  leaving  work  two  hours  early,  twice  in  one  week.   •  “The  EEOC  filed  this  lawsuit  because  the  difference  in  treatment   between  these  employees  was  clear,  and  a  woman  lost  her  livelihood   due  to  this  discrimina/on,”  said  Robert  Dawkins,  regional  ajorney  for   the  EEOC’s  Atlanta  District  Office.  “It  is  plainly  illegal  to  treat  employees   differently  because  of  their  race  or  na/onal  origin.  This  resolu/on,  we   trust,  will  prevent  such  disparate  treatment  in  the  future.”  
  12. 12. Unemployment  Claims   •  Culpability  –  “The  conduct  causing  the  discharge   must  be  so  serious  that  con/nuing  the  employment   rela/onship  would  jeopardize  the  employer's  righoul   interest.”   •  Knowledge  -­‐  “The  claimant  must  have  had   knowledge  of  the  conduct  the  employer  expected.”   •  Control  –  “The  conduct  causing  the  discharge  must   have  been  within  the  claimant's  control.  ”   Cost  you  money  in  UI  premiums.     To  win  an  unemployment  claim,  generally  you   must  demonstrate  that  the  employee  had:    
  13. 13. Before  Using  Discipline   •  Observe  the  behavior  firsthand  or   inves/gate   •  Consider:   Ø Severity  of  offense   Ø Employee’s  prior  history   Ø Mi/ga/ng  circumstances   Ø Was  the  employee  aware?   Ø Precedent   Ø Policy   Ø Consul/ng  HR  
  14. 14. Inves/ga/ons   •  Get  the  facts   •  Explain  the  facts   •  Document  the  facts   •  Interview  witnesses   •  For  serious  cases  –   involve  HR  
  15. 15. EEOC  Press  Release  2/7/2013   Company  Fired  Employee  for  Not  Wearing  ProstheOc  Arm   •  MIAMI  -­‐  A  Florida  full-­‐service  asset  protec/on  security  firm  violated   federal  law  by  firing  an  employee  because  of  his  disability,  a  missing   arm,  and  then  punishing  him  for  complaining  about  the  discrimina/on,   the  U.S.  Equal  Employment  Opportunity  Commission  (EEOC)  charged  in   a  lawsuit  it  filed  today.     •  The  EEOC  had  charged  that  Florida  Commercial  Security  Services,  Corp.,   doing  business  as  Florida  Construc/on  Security  Services  (FCSS),   terminated  a  guard  for  failing  to  wear  his  prosthe/c  arm,  even  though  it   was  unnecessary,  and  then  refused  to  assign  him  to  another  posi/on   because  he  filed  a  discriminaSon  charge  with  the  EEOC.   •  "The  ADA  requires  that  people  with  disabili/es  be  judged  on  their   ability  to  perform  the  essenSal  funcSons  of  the  job  -­‐-­‐  not  on   stereotypes  or  appearances,"  said  Robert  E.  Weisberg,  regional  ajorney   for  the  EEOC's  Miami  District  Office.    "Customer  complaints  about  an   employee's  appearance  created  by  his  disability  are  not  a  legi/mate   reason  to  terminate  him.“     EEOC  Sues  Florida  Construc/on  Security  Services  for  Disability  Discrimina/on  and   Retalia/on,  EEOC  Newsroom,  2/7/2013  
  16. 16. Discipline  Op/ons   •  Coaching  and  feedback   •  Verbal  warning   •  Wrijen  warning  “write-­‐up”   •  Performance  Improvement  Plan  (PIP)   •  Suspension  without  pay   •  Termina/on    
  17. 17. Progressive  Discipline   •  Sets expectations •  Accountability – employee must change or leave…may choose to resign •  Correct the behavior – easier to retain than retrain •  Deterrent – other employees notice
  18. 18. The  Discipline  Mee/ng   •  Meet  in  private   •  Witness  present   •  Review  the  poor  performance   •  Explain  expected  performance  (w/deadline)   •  Review  the  form   •  Ask  them  to  sign   •  Allow  employee  comments   •  Give  them  a  copy  of  the  form   •  CONFIDENTIALITY  
  19. 19. Termina/on  –  Extra  steps   •  Consult  G&A   •  Collect  documenta/on  –  always   •  Final  check   •  Utah  -­‐  Must  pay  within  24  hours  of  termina/on   •  (Resigna/ons:  on  next  regular  payday)  
  20. 20. The  Termina/on  Mee/ng   •  Meet  in  private   •  Witness  present   •  Get  to  the  point   •  Review  term  form   •  Ask  them  to  sign   •  Give  them  a  copy  of  the  form  and  final  check   •  Submit  term  form  to  HR  
  21. 21. Documenta/on  Helps  Employer  Win   Discrimina/on  Lawsuit   •  “The  Seventh  Circuit  recently  upheld  the  summary  judgment  dismissal  of  a  former   hospital  worker's  claims  for  na/onal  origin  and  age  discrimina/on  a^er  the  worker  was   fired  for  repeatedly  sending  "nega/ve,  unprofessional,  and  disrespecoul"  emails  to  her   boss  and  other  co-­‐workers.       •  Notably,  the  plain/ff  presented  evidence  that  her  2008  and  2009  performance   evaluaSons  were  "saSsfactory"  and  that  several  of  her  co-­‐workers  made  a  variety  of   remarks  about  her  Puerto  Rican  naSonal  origin.       •  However,  the  hospital  employer  had  documented  its  various  disciplinary  acSons   with  plain/ff,  including  two  counseling  sessions  Human  Resources  had  with  her  in  April   2010  regarding  her  unprofessional  communica/ons  with  peers  and  supervisors  and  a   wrijen  warning  in  July  2010  for  similar  conduct.  In  April  2011,  a^er  learning  about  three   more  unprofessional  emails  sent  by  the  plain/ff  to  her  boss,  the  hospital  fired  her.       •  The  Seventh  Circuit  held  that  the  plain/ff's  evidence  of  meeSng  expectaSons  on  her   performance  evaluaSons  was  essenSally  trumped  by  the  more  recent  and  thorough   documentaSon  of  the  plainSff's  discipline  issues,  thus  elimina/ng  a  triable  issue  of  fact.”   Employer's  Contemporaneous  Documenta/on  of  Verbal  Counseling  Helps  It  Win   Discrimina/on  Lawsuit,  Laner  Muchin,  2/18/2014  
  22. 22. Lessons  from  Margarita  Zayas   •  Supervisor  gave  nega/ve  performance   feedback   Ø and  documented  it!   •  Good,  recent  documenta/on  even  trumped   performance  review   •  The  case  didn’t  have  to  go  to  jury   Ø employers  don’t  get  much  sympathy  from  juries   •  Same-­‐actor  inference  helped  this  /me  
  23. 23. Documenta/on   •  Complete  promptly  a^er  the  incident   •  Facts  only:  use  dates,  /mes  and  details   •  No  judgments,  emo/ons  or  conclusions   •  Types  of  Documenta/on   Ø Supervisor   Ø Company   Ø G&A    
  24. 24. Documenta/on:  What  to  include   •  Employer’s  expecta/on   •  How  the  employee  has  failed  to  meet  that   expecta/on   •  Prior  counseling  or  discipline   •  The  employer’s  expecta/ons  going  forward   •  The  consequences  of  the  employee’s  failure   to  make  the  requisite  improvement   Blunders  in  Documen/ng  Discipline,  SHRM  9/23/2014  
  25. 25. Documenta/on:  Common  Mistakes   •  Using  labels  without  providing  behavioral  examples   •  Using  words  that  sound  like  “proxies”  for  bias  retalia/on   •  Focusing  on  the  employee’s  intent  (as  opposed  to  results)   •  Focusing  on  the  perceived  cause  of  a  performance   problem  as  opposed  to  the  problem  itself   •  Using  absolutes  that  are  not  credible   •  Hedging  so  much  that  the  employer  seems  uncertain  of   the  basis  for  its  own  decision   •  Including  too  much  detail   •  Using  technical  rather  than  plain  language   •  Failing  to  make  clear  the  consequences  of  lack  of   improvement   •  Using  labels  that  may  create  liability   Blunders  in  Documen/ng  Discipline,  SHRM  9/23/2014  
  26. 26. Documenta/on:  Examples   Problema/c  Documenta/on:   •  Jim  has  a  poor  awtude  when  asked  to   complete  work  assignments.     Bejer  Documenta/on:   •  On  May  4,  2012,  I  asked  Jim  to  have  the   quarterly  report  turned  in  by  May  7th.  Jim   rolled  his  eyes  and  said  “Yeah,  right”  then   walked  out  of  my  office.  
  27. 27. Documenta/on:  Examples   Problema/c  Documenta/on:   •  Maj  is  always  late,  even  a^er  he  has  been   given  a  warning.     Bejer  Documenta/on:     •  Maj  is  scheduled  to  be  at  work  at  8:00  a.m.   On  March  15,  2012,  he  arrived  at  8:15  a.m.;   the  following  day  he  arrived  at  8:20  a.m.  On   March  16,  I  told  Maj  that  he  needs  to  be   here  by  8:00  a.m.  or  we  would  proceed  with   disciplinary  ac/on.  Maj  said  that  he  would   be  here  at  8:00  a.m.  On  March  26,  Maj   arrived  at  8:30  a.m.    
  28. 28. HRCI  CerSficaSon  Credits:     "This  webinar  has  been  pre-­‐cer/fied  for  1  hour  of  general  recer/fica/on  credit   toward  PHR,  SPHR  and  GPHR  recer/fica/on  through  the  HR  Cer/fica/on  Ins/tute.       We  will  send  out  a  confirmaSon  e-­‐mail  to  all  those  that  are  confirmed  as   a[ended  with  the  program  ID  code  to  note  on  your  HRCI  recerSficaSon   applicaSon  form.       The  use  of  this  seal  is  not  an  endorsement  by  the  HR  Cer/fica/on  Ins/tute  of  the  quality  of  the   program.    It  means  that  this  program  has  met  the  HR  Cer/fica/on  Ins/tute's  criteria  to  be  pre-­‐ approved  for  recer/fica/on  credit."   QUESTIONS?   G&A  Partners   info@gnapartners.com   (800)  253-­‐8562   *This webinar has been recorded and will be posted on the G&A website by Friday.

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