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In the article - Discipline and Due Process in the Workplace – by Edwin B. Dean, Assistant Professor, the School of Hospitality Management at Florida International University, Assistant Professor Dean prefaces his article with the statement: “Disciplining employees is often necessary for the maintenance of an effective operation. The author discusses situations which require discipline and methods of handling employees, including the need for rules and due process.”

In defining what constitutes appropriate discipline and what doesn’t, Dean says, “Fair play is the keystone to discipline in the workplace. Discrimination, caprice, favoritism, and erratic and inconsistent discipline can be costly and harmful to employee relations, and often are a violation of law.” Violation of law is a key phrase in this statement.

The author offers a short primer on tact in regard to disciplining an employee.

“Discipline must be tailored to the individual,” Dean offers a pearl of wisdom. “A frown for one can cause a tearful outbreak; another employee may need the proverbial two-by-four in order to get his attention.” This is a perceptive comment, indeed, and one in which most would concede but not all would follow.

Dean presents a simple outline for steps in the disciplinary process by submitting this suggestion for your approval: “The steps in the disciplinary process begin perhaps with a friendly

warning or word of advice. The key here is friendly,” Dean declares. “It could progress to an oral or written reprimand, followed by a disciplinary layoff, terminating in that equivalent of capital punishment, discharge.”

Ouch [!]; in order from lenient to strident. Dean suggests these steps are necessary in order to maintain decorum in the workplace.

Assistant Professor Dean references the Weingarter Rule. It is a rule that although significant, most employees, at least non-union employees, don’t know is in their quiver.

“If an interview is likely to result in discipline, the employee is entitled to have a representative present, whether a union is involved or not,” the rule states. “The employer is not obligated to inform the employee of the rule, but he is obligated to honor the employee's request, if made,” Dean explains.

Dean makes an interesting point by revealing that a termination often reflects as much on the institution as it does the employee suffering the termination.

The author goes on to list several infractions that could warrant an employee disciplinary action, with possible approaches toward each. Dean also cautions against capricious disciplinary action; if not handled properly a discipline could and can result in a lawsuit against the institution itself.