Consistency Is Key

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” What then of wise consistencies? In the employment context, they are to be strived for! And the following tips may be helpful:

  • Enforcing policies consistently and treating similarly situated employees uniformly: Making exceptions to company policies – or failing to evenhandedly enforce them – can open the door to allegations of discrimination by employees not afforded special treatment. In Redlin v. Gross Pointe Pub. Sch. Sys. (6th Circuit April 2019), an employee alleged that her transfer to another work site constituted retaliation for engaging in protected activity. The Court ruled that her claim could proceed to trial even though she engaged in “blameworthy” conduct that might otherwise justify the transfer. The Court emphasized the fact that a similarly situated employee engaged in the same “blameworthy” conduct and was not transferred, which “is evidence that the transfer was retaliatory.”
  • Document, document, document: A written record of progressive discipline promotes employee accountability. It also helps to demonstrate that policies are being administered fairly, which can be useful in the event of a dispute.
  • Providing adequate training for lower-level managers: It is important to ensure that managers are adequately supervised, trained and equipped with tools to enable them to effectively manage employees. Formal seminars – such as sexual harassment or diversity training – can impart practical knowledge and help to demonstrate an organization’s commitment to anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
  • Following up on employee complaints: Failing to investigate and resolve employee complaints sends the wrong message to employees and may deprive the company of potentially valuable evidence.

There is no “silver bullet” to eliminate the possibility of lawsuits and administrative actions. But enacting clear policies – and executing them consistently and fairly – can reduce the risk of costly legal action.

Questions? Call us today at (248) 477-6300!

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