Labor Relations- Bus 405 004016
Professor Fred Brandt
September 4, 2010
Strayer University-Delaware County
Employee Discipline Employee discipline is one of the most commonly discussed issues in any organization, whether it is union or non-union. It is a matter that management must deal with on a day to day basis, and remain mindful of the consequences that can arise if not dealt with properly. It has been noted that about 40 percent of most grievance cases involve how discipline was carried out. According to the text and several articles the discipline action is likely to be challenged by unions, employees and various government agencies. Historically employee discipline has come a long way. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, employers were able to discipline harshly. Employees could be burned, whipped and publicly humiliated by employers for wrong doings. In 1920 Frederick Taylor had a theory of scientific management that stressed the financial impact of discharging employees in an illogical manner. In 1935 the Wagner Act shaped management’s disciplinary policies, making it a crime to discipline employees because off their union relations. This is when the National Labor Relations Board (NJRB) was formed to enforce the accountability of management actions against employees. Beginning in 1940 to the present the managerial policies on employee discipline has grown and developed the course of labor arbitration with three broad powers given to arbitrators. These powers are 1.) to determine what constitutes “just cause” for discipline, 2.) to establish “standards of proof and evidence”, 3.) to review and modify or eliminate the penalty imposed by management when warranted. Most nonrepresented employees fall under the “employment-at-will” common law doctrine, which permits an employer to discharge and an employee to leave at any time for any or no stated reason.
Employee Discipline Under the employment-at-will doctrine there is the public policy exception which states that “an employee is wrongfully discharged if and when the discharge is inconsistent with an explicit, well established public policy of the state.” There is also the implied contract exception which occurs when “an employer and employee form an implied contract, even though there is no express, written instrument regarding employment relationship.” Then there is the covenant-of-good-faith and fair dealing which means that “the employer personnel decisions are subject to the “just cause” standard, prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.” The present day disciplinary systems are designed to discourage problematic behavior and to quickly correct problems when they are discovered. It is up to the direct supervisor of employees to maintain and document infractions in a timely manner. Management of any organization has a right to expect and maintain a safe and orderly place of business. There should be written sets of rules to govern the conduct that is expected from employees. The guidelines set by government agencies such as the EEOC and the NLRB for the fair treatment of employees and their discipline must meet the “just cause” criteria which is that there is clear and convincing evidence that a disciplinary offense was committed, that the disciplinary action taken by management was appropriate and that the discipline was not discriminatory. Accordingly management has the right to direct the work force and facility in the most efficient yet safe way for both employer and employees.
Discipline can improve an inefficient operation as long as the discipline is in line...