Can an employee be disciplined twice for the same incident?

Can an employee be disciplined twice for the same incident by separating the alleged rule violations? Notices included same date and time of alleged offense and submitted evidence had identical date/time stamps on video evidence. It enabled company to elevate applied level of discipline and accelerate termination.

Can an associate be disciplined more severely than colleagues with similar infractions?

Rita Risser Chai Responds:

It is generally legal for an employer to treat a single incident as multiple infractions if multiple rules were violated, unless a union contract or other employment agreement provides otherwise. It is illegal to discipline associates differently if, and only if, the reason for the different treatment is because of race, sex, age, disability, ethnic origin, religion, or any other protected classification under state or federal law. However, the employer certainly is allowed to consider all factors in determining discipline. For example, an employee with excellent performance over a long period time with one infraction may be treated better than a new employee with poor performance and the same infraction.

Posted 04-11-2017

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Rita M. Risser Chai is the founder of Fair Measures. An attorney in California for 20 years and now an attorney in Hawaii, she authored the Prentice Hall book, Stay Out of Court! The Manager’s Guide to Preventing Employee Lawsuits. She developed most of the curriculum used by Fair Measures, created the firm’s first website praised in HR Magazine, and wrote numerous articles on employment law including one on best practice harassment prevention training published in the magazine of the American Society for Training and Development (now ATD). She taught Law and Human Resources at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for eight years, and has presented four times at the annual conventions of the Hawaii Society of Human Resource Management.