Employee Discipline And Termination - CiteHR
Skhadir
Strategic Business Management Includes Revenue
Cite Contribution
Community Manager
Ankita1001
Sr. Hr Executive @ Polymerupdate
NK SUNDARAM
Soft Skill Trainer / Hr Consultant - India
+1 Other

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Hello all,

Recently, we have come across lot many queries on termination, forced resignation, employee disciplining etc and have debated much about it.

Just today I received an email from a company that gives training sessions to HR on various topic and the mail was about delivering a training session on "Employee Disciplining". After having read the mail till the end, I wish to share it here in order to know the view points of different HR Members on this topic. I have edited the mail only to the extent of deleting the promotional links that they have sent along with it.

The mailer is as below:

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Poor performer has complained? Read this before firing!

By Jonathan Hyman

Employers usually don't have a problem terminating an employee for poor performance if the employee has never raised any kind of discrimination claim.

But somehow, as soon as an employee goes to the EEOC (or even just HR) with a complaint, the same employer doesn't know what to do.
  • Should you terminate the employee and face a potential retaliation suit?
  • Or do you keep the employee, hoping that will keep her from suing?

Because of the specter of a retaliation claim, employers often feel hamstrung and seldom take the action necessary to rid themselves of a problem employee.

Lower your stress level—and the risk of a lawsuit—with Effective Employee Discipline & Termination Strategies for Supervisors.

Are you being set up?

Consider the possibility that the employee's complaint is a setup.

Indeed, when problem employees see the writing on the wall, they often will complain about bogus incidents of alleged discrimination in an attempt to bulletproof themselves from an adverse action like demotion or termination. Employees believe that the mere threat of retaliation liability will protect their jobs.

It's understandable that the threat of litigation sometimes paralyzes employers—no matter how baseless the retaliation threat might be. Don't let that happen to your organization.

The following case sends the right message to employees: that a meritless complaint will not protect a poor performer.

And it's welcome relief from fear of a retaliation lawsuit.

7-year run of poor reviews

Daniel Galeski was an acoustics engineer at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, Mich. During his seven-year tenure at the theater, Galeski compiled a history of well-documented performance problems.

Two months before the date when he would finally be fired, Galeski complained that his male supervisor had been sexually harassing him. After complaining, Galeski's performance problems continued, for which he received reprimands and written warnings.

After he failed to improve—and despite his harassment complaint—the city terminated him.

The court agreed with the city that Galeski's long history of performance problems, many of which predated his harassment complaints, were fatal to his retaliation claim:

"Galeski has a history of violating the City's policies and being insubordinate…. [I]t appears that the issues that led to Galeski's termination were inevitable once a more strict supervisor arrived at the Theater…. [H]is job was in danger regardless of his sexual harassment complaints. In light of his repeated issues with failing to wear his uniform and his reaction to his employer revoking his privilege to use the gym, there is no indication in the record that the city of Dearborn's legitimate reasons for discharging Galeski were pretextual or otherwise invalid.”

(Galeski v. City of Dearborn, No. 10-1256, 6th Cir., 2011)

No one likes to discipline or fire an employee, but all too often you simply must do it. Get the training you and your supervisors need to do it right—professionally and unemotionally—while legally protecting your organization and yourself.

Lessons for employers

The case provides several important lessons for employers that may have hesitated before disciplining an employee who has made an internal or other complaint. These include:
  • Don't wait to terminate. Galeski did not become an insubordinate employee overnight. His performance issues predated his termination by seven years. Yet, a long line of weak and nonconfrontational supervisors refused to do anything about it.

    I'm not saying you should fire an employee at the first sign of trouble, but there is a broad line between fair warning and years of capitulation. The former will put you in good stead defending a lawsuit. The latter could result in a judge or jury asking why you waited so long—and then looked for an illegitimate reason for the late-in-the-game termination. Just because this scenario worked out for the city of Dearborn does not mean that it will work out well for every employer in every case.
  • Document, document, document. Few terminations can survive scrutiny without proper documentation. Your odds as an employer go down exponentially if you pair a lack of documentation with a termination on the heels of protected activity.

    As the Galeski case illustrates, a poor performer is a poor performer, regardless of complaints about harassment or other protected conduct. Without a legitimate paper trail, however, you will find yourself without the ammunition to do anything about it.
  • Do investigate the employee's complaint. While you don't have to withhold discipline just because the employee complained about alleged discrimination, neither should you ignore the complaint. It is, after all, possible that someone is experiencing sexual harassment and is a poor performer. Regardless, you don't want to give a judge or jury a chance to decide that you allowed sexual harassment or discrimination to exist. Remember, the employee can win a hostile environment case if he really was harassed, even if he loses a retaliation claim.
  • It's a nasty job, but somebody has to do it. Employee discipline, and especially termination, definitely raise your stress level. It's even more frustrating when discipline is ineffective, and even more stressful when a poorly handled termination triggers a lawsuit.

When you handle discipline and termination properly, your organization will see countless benefits. Do it wrong, and you're in a world of hurt. Why take the risk?

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I would really want that seniors and other HR Members on this forum share and express their views on this.

Employee termination and employee disciplining had always been retaliated.

Though a few cases genuinely needs termination, most of the cases that have been discussed in the forum, we have observed that HR/Management terminates the employee just for the sake of it, many times even without giving a proper justification and/or compensation for same.

What should be done about Employee Disciplining and Termination Process, How should it be carried forward or alleviated?

Waiting a healthy discussion.

Thank you in advance for the time, views and efforts,

Different strokes for different folks! The termination cases that I worked through were never a one-way error . However, as shared in this post about the documentation, it remained the only respite for the employers.
Employee grievances are almost the reason why we have attrition. An employee leaving the firm , many a times resort to such tactics to settle scores. It gets very sensitive and is difficult to fight a case on such a ground, as the employer is looking forward to an early exit for that employee.
Fuelling grapevine is mostly undermined. However, an active communication process can retain balance.
Fudging the clearance documents, almost top-most this list.
Managerial counselling is often considered a cure to insubordination while being employed or even serving a bond. Yet, moderation of the employee's activity calls for action, day in and out .
I wait to hear from our experts and mentors .

Dear Ankita and (Cite Contribution),
Thanks for sharing this topic, most vital but always underplayed and even (underestimated). In India, we don't go beyond the Labour Lagislations (which is only applicable to workmen). For any terminations, specific methodology need to be followed.
Please follow my blogs on the similar topics at Vinod Bidwaik: Performance Appraisal and Vinod Bidwaik: Involuntary Separations… How you handle?
Thanks & Regards,

Hello Mr. Vinod,

You blogs are always very informative.

Thank you very much for the share.

Indeed one can relate and can try to comprehend the problem when one reads the whole thing together.

From my understanding, the whole process of "Terminating an Employee" is triggered because -

1. HR fails to hire a right person who fits into the culture practiced by the organization.

2. Expectations are never communicated with the employees.

3. (I do not know how many would agree on this) Many employees are unclear of their job roles as they are not shared the KPI of their role due to which they are clueless as to where to head further and hence always are categorised as low/poor performer.

It is very important to share the expectation that you have from a person at a particular designation performing so-and-so role.

It is as simple as this -

Unless you tell me what you specifically need, How do you expect me to deliver what you want?

When we call up an ice-cream parlor, though it is very obvious that we are to have an ice-cream, we need to give an order that specifies which ice-cream or what flavor do we need. If we are to allow the server to serve any ice-cream and not give him specific details of our likes and dislikes, we cannot blame the server to have served us a flavor which we do not like.

Something that seems very common are seldom practiced.

Again it is not just limited to the fact that supervisor are to inform the performer what is expected out of them.

It also means that when there is a vacancy and you fill a manpower requisition form, communicate clearly what job roles would the prospect perform, what qualification you need, how much experience, salary range, any specific details that need to be verified etc.

Many organizations just ask HR to give them say a PHP developer. But fail to mention what is the specification. An HR do not have all the technical knowledge to understand and try to hit as close to the target.

This is especially true when the opening is outsourced to the recruitment firms.

Again when it comes to outsourcing the vacancy so that a recruitment consultancy can source you CVs, it is essential to know whom are you giving your opening to. It really becomes a pain to give recruitment to a person who do not know the basics of recruitment. In consultancies, a recruiter is given a target for month. He may just give you some CVs irrespective of trying to find harder if any better could be found.

The whole process could be checked and could be made better by one simple thing - Communication

It brings transparancy to the process and also informs what is expected out of the candidates.

Any other ideas that can help the HR to develop their performance???

Dear All,

Unless the EMPLOYER/MANAGEMENT learns "HOW TO NEGOTIATE AND SOLVE THE PROBLEM USING LOGIC AND COMMONSENSE, ALONG WITH LITTLE HUMOR" and STOP MISUSING their "POWERS", EMPLOYEE TERMINATIONS will be a NEVER ENDING SAGA. If a management cannot address employees GENUINE GRIEVANCES positively, i would love to call them(management) as COWARDS because terminating employee cannot be a BEST or PERMANENT SOLUTION to the existing PROBLEM. Infact, PROBLEM itself contains the SOLUTION if we know how to DECODE and INTERPRET it in RIGHT/POSITIVE SENSE. In many organisations employee termination(biased) had ignited employee agitations and scope for plotting new plans to fight against the INJUSTICE.

- My experience says, Management, HOD and the SUPERVISORS need to "MASTER - PROBLEM SOLVING TECHNIQUES & NEGOTIATION STRATEGIES" and "LEARN TO FACE THE REALITY".

- They must never underestimate any EMPLOYEE.

- They must come forward with a SOLUTION containing MULTIPLE OPTIONS.

- EMPLOYER/MANAGEMENT must listen to both the parties rather just supporting(biased decision) the SUPERIOR which resulted in TERMINATING THE EMPLOYEE.

EMPLOYER/MANAGEMENT must treat all your employees as BUSINESS PARTNERS rather treating them as SLAVES(employees) who are truly HELPLESS IN NATURE. EMPLOYER/MANAGEMENT must PRACTICE "DOWN-TO-EARTH ATTITUDE" and KILL YOUR EGO.

Often many organisation are repeatedly saying that, we are unable to recruit "THE RIGHT CANDIDATE WITH RIGHT ATTITUDE WITH RIGHT COMPETENCIES, etc etc". To what extent employer/management had tried their best to help employees to align themselves with organisation's culture? It is evident that, NEW EMPLOYEES are not aware of ORGANISATION CULTURE before joining any organisation nor they had any idea about the ATTITUDE THE EMPLOYER/MANAGER, HOD & SUPERVISORS.

HR must STOP buttering up their MANAGEMENT just to safe guard their jobs. This is happening in majority of the organisations and HR is equally help responsible for EMPLOYEE BIASED TERMINATIONS.

This is all i can say.

With profound regards

'Discipline' is a double-edged sword in my opinion - it should cut both ways i.e both the employer and the employee ! However, in many organisations, always the 'employee' is disciplined ! We see here in CiteHR forum, in many organisations, there are no systems, procedures, no written appointment letters, no leave policies... but the moment an employee has not followed a particular procedure or absent himself or quit the company. Immediatley there will be queries from young HR professions seeking clarifications from seniors the methodology for 'fire-fighting' ! And then disciplining takes place !

So whom should we discipline ?? The employers or the employees only ?? Before disciplining somebody, should we not see the need for discipline, whether sufficient steps were taken proactively or action is taken only reactively ? Whether there are systems and procedures in place at all levels, covering all activities whether all options were exhausted before resorting to 'dsciplining' somebody...

Let us accept, we humans are one step above the animals atleast in terms of common sense, knowledge, skills, ability and so on. One require disciplining only if the person goes from a 'human level' to an 'animal level'. Only animals need to be tamed, disciplined like in a circus ! Disciplining should take place if all other options are exhausted thoroughly.

If an immediate superior spends enough time with hims team member, to mentor, guide, motivate, train, teach those reporting to him, I dont think there will be a need to discipline somebody. If an employee has some grey areas for development, it is the duty of the team leader to identify the same and arrange for training for filling up the gap !

The old saying goes like this: People dont leave the organisation but leave their managers !

I await the views of other fellow professions and experts !

Exactly Sir,

Great that you brought up this point.

Indeed, who is to be blamed when the organization do not have the policies and procedures in place?

Even if they have, those are not communicated to the employees.

Whilst communicating, very smartly we (as in HR - which don't mean all HRs but those people who either willingly practice this or is forced to do so) present data which can be easily manipulated in our own benfit.

Citing an example -

When in interview it is said that you shall be getting X amount as your in-hand,

What do you mean by the in-hand?

Technically, if you say my in-hand would be X Rs pm, I expect that I shall get X Rs on my paycheck / deposited in my account after all statutory deductions (as PF / ESIC / Prof Tax / TDS etc as applicable)

Whilst I was working in a consultancy before getting hired by my current organization, I was said I would get X amount as in-hand.

Same was printed in the appointment letter as -

Monthly salary : X

PF Deduction : - (N A as we didn't had 20 employees)

ESIC Deduction: - ( N A as the salary was above the limit)

Prof. Tax - Nil

TDS - Nil (because my annual salary didn't cross the basic exemption limit)

======================

Inhand X

====================

Note: Statutory deductions would be deducted as applicable

Whilst we got out paycheck, it was X - 200 (Prof Tax)

On asking they said it is prof tax. It was not applicable to them before because they were not a Ltd Co and now it is applicable (something on that lines which was not understood by me)

Also justified saying we printed a Note saying there would be statutory deductions as applicable.

We all had to be united and say that P.T. is a statutory deduction and is included in the salary details mentioned in the chart above.

Also while in interview, we were said we would get X as inhand and it wasn't said X would be our salary. There is huge difference between two and we need what you promised - X inhand.

They realised their mistake. Asked to modify the appointment letters for future appointees, and they said because of their mistake, they would be paying PT on our behalf till our salaries would be revised.

But I resigned the next month so know not much about the progress.

But in such cases, who should we be blaming?

It was a case when the whole staff was united and they could do perhaps nothing...

But if in the same case there would have been just 1 person who had guts to speak against the bad practice or raise the voice/concern or challenge the discipline, he would have been terminated before he could spread it to others.

And this getting sacked fear would not have allowed any one else to raise the concern.

========================

I read somewhere in some post that -

No one died of gulping down their egos and admitting their mistakes.

True that. We know the policies, procedures, rules, and discipline.

We expect our employees to discipline themselves and abide by the set rules of the company.

However, as HR do we go and question certain practices of the management which is actually not fair???

Do we check on our conduct to ensure we are ethical and are following rules?

Do we mean to say by our conduct that the rules and policies that we design are meant only for the employees exclusive of top management and HR? Are HR and top management not the employees of the company????

What message are we sending out by playing double standards????

Something to think about....

Need some more discussion.... Hope people express their ideas....

I was delighted to go through a lively discussion on a relevant issue which most HR professionals fight shy to discuss. Thanks to Ankita for bringing up the issue for discussion. The crux of the issue is the need to be well equipped with dicipinary procedures so that the employers can avoid the adverse effects of a lopsided action ( or is it misadventure?) I only confine myself to this rationale.

A disciplined workforce, embracing the altruistic principle of 'all for one and one for all' exists only in the idealistic imaginations (or is it wild imaginations) of social thinkers and management phylosophers. The realties are different and harsh, staring in every one's face. The relaity is that a man with a heart, full of desires and a head ,capable of thinking, can be both an asset and a liability to an organisation, depending up on the way, he manipualtes the head and the heart. Therefore discipline will ever remain an issue in the organisational management.

However HR can, as Ankita said, minimise the instnaces of indiscipline by selecting candidates with right fit.This again is not so easy.Candidates fulfilling simultaneously all the criteria of talent fit, job fit and culture fit are few and far to seek and if you find one, it is doubtgul whether the organisation is capable of hiring one (or willing tohire one) when it comes to the hard core discussions of pay and packages beacuse a diamond is always costly.This apart, how many interviewing members are equipped with such super skills to pick a diamond from the heap of coals.Thus there are various factors beyond the control of the organisation which may allow a mix of the 'Good, the Bad and the Ugly" into an organisation livening up issues of discipline now and then.

Dear members, "Discipline' is the word, which we may love it or we may hate it but we can't ignore it.Therefore the wisdom lies in equipping ourselves with the knowledge and procedures relating to disciplinary action as Vinod opined and using such knowledge judiciously and on merits of each case as (Cite Contribution) rightly described as different strokes for different folks and at the same time, making efforts to mitigate instances of indiscipline by :

1) Recruiting candidates with right fit, if you are lucky to find one,

2)Addressing grievances promptly as skhadir said.

3)Counselling and censuring employees when the issues have behavioural overtones only. You cannot counsel an employee who committed a fraud and caused financial loss to the organisation.

4)Self -disciplining by employers as NK Sundaram suggested.

B.Saikumar

Mumbai

Hello Sai Kumar Sir,

You reply was long awaited. Delighted.

It is indeed true that finding an opt person to recruit is something really next to impossible.

Instead we should try to get the best of what is there in the market, train them (to fir into the role professionally) and support them (while they get alined to the culture)

However what I meant in my post is kind of this experience -

As a consultant, I was once asked by a client to source CVs of PHP developes.

I sent him the best I could source.

All were rejected because he wanted a Facebook application developer.

The only thing that i wanted to clear was - if you are expecting certain specifications into a profile, it should be communicated, so that the person who is working for you would know what exactly is to be done.

=================================================

Addressing grievance...

I realized one thing in my current employment - Staff would never come to grieve to HR unless they trust us.

How do they trust us?

When they know that we are not going to butter the management and be a nodding doll to whatever they say.

When they would know that we as HR are not just going to make communication top to bottom but would also take the communication bottom to top.

When they would know that we would not take advantage of the friendship and try to get things out from them and misuse them.

When they would know that we would not be playing politics and frame them.

When they would know we would be ethical and would not be favoring one or a few people.

It is the responsibility of HR to try to balance out and develop a fair culture.

Try to listen to the grievances that the colleagues have to share and try to analyze what can be done.

Hence, somewhere it does boil down to self disciplining.

As they say - Practice what you Preach.

Thank you once again for your valuable input Sir.

More often than not, HR person is caught in the cross-fire. Unfortunately, HR person cannot take sides either with management nor with the employee... he will always be in Trishanku ! However, if he is for standing upright, assertive, mature enough to show the Management the Writing on the Wall, he can discipline the Management also, in a subtle, gentler, diplomatic way. However, in most cases, we HR people pretend as if nothing happened, always take sides with Management (considering his own stake in the organisation !), and it will be typically like the Emperor in his new clothes.... hahahaha... In my own company, when my successor was appointed, some senior people in charge of HR in the Division, played with his salary fixation by calculating the CTC wrongly and he was paid much less than what was promised and cadrewise not at par with his batch-mates in our organisation. He is still suffering due to the cumulative loss in the past five years.

Those who fixed his salary have all been transferred to other business units / divisions but the problem is still there !


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