There is no federal law that obligates employers to adopt or follow any specific disciplinary process.

In the vast majority of states, the default rule is that employment is at will, which means that the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason (or no reason) unless a law or agreement provides otherwise. Therefore, unless a law, agreement, or contract provides otherwise, an employer can typically take whatever action it deems appropriate in order to manage poor performance or unacceptable conduct in the workplace.

With these principles in mind, however, there are still right and very wrong ways to handle employee discipline.