Discipline plays a role in every company’s culture. It’s common for businesses to have a specific disciplinary procedure that may involve verbal warnings, written reprimands and even unpaid leaves of absence before termination.
Progressive disciplinary policies give employees a chance to correct problematic behaviors while also helping employers justify a termination. Knowing that you’ve broken the rules or that your performance has declined can help you improve your approach to work.
Unfortunately, some companies will exaggerate their complaints against a worker to justify what is ultimately a retaliatory firing. Workers who face unexpected disciplinary action after making a complaint about unpaid wages, sexual harassment, or discrimination to their employer may be the victims of retaliation.
Federal law is very clear that companies cannot punish or retaliate against a worker who asserts their rights or engages in protected activity, like whistleblowing. Any sort of reprimand or job-related penalties after you make a formal complaint is something you should note.
However, if your employer has just started to enforce a rule whereby they’ve ignored violations in the past, that could be a sign that you are a target. The same is true for write-ups about behaviors that management has previously ignored from you or your colleagues.
Mediocre performance reviews are also a warning sign. Trying to document a decline in performance could be a stepping stone to an employer taking other unfair and retaliatory actions against you, like cutting your wages or terminating you. Keeping a record of when you interact with management will make it easier for you to show that your firing was retaliatory and, therefore, a wrongful termination.