Progressive Discipline and Employee Termination: Effective Strategies for HR

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One of a manager's least favorite jobs is disciplining employees. The issue is so disliked that many will put off the meeting as long as possible, or even forget the transgression happened in the first place. Such avoidance can only hurt your employees and your organization in the long run. You must have an effective discipline and termination strategy in place.

Consider these statistics:

  • A jury in Jackson County, Missouri, awarded $6.5 million to an ex-police officer who claimed wrongful termination against the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. The verdict exceeded expectations of the plaintiff's attorney, who asked the jury for $1.9 million.
  • A Wyoming jury awarded a short-term employee $550,000 in damages after finding he was fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • A former Chevron employee was awarded $5.5 million by a San Francisco federal court jury that found the company was liable for retaliation and wrongful termination.

Don't let discipline issues snowball into costly lawsuits. HR professionals need a structured approach for disciplining and firing employees, which includes acquiring necessary documentation that will hold up in court.

Progressive discipline is a method of performance improvement in which the disciplinary action given to employees for rule violations becomes successively harsher depending on the severity of the offense or number of infractions.

Learning how to initiate and conduct a progressive disciplinary process from verbal warning all the way through employee termination is essential to keeping your employees -- and your organization --on the right track.