3 Bad Behaviors You Can’t Reprimand

Accommodating Bad Behavior in the Office


Grounds for disciplining employees used to be strictly black and white for many employers. However, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken an aggressive stance to limiting employers’ rights to discipline workers, leaving the definitions of punishable infractions in a grey area. Writing a final written warning for a first offense, or moving straight to termination is now a procedure of the past. Employers need to be more careful than ever to make sure their systems and policies are consistent with both the National Labor Relations Act and state law going forward.


Read on for the top 3 changes to employee infractions:


1: Excessive Absence

It used to be a no-brainer that not showing up for work was grounds for dismissal. Many cities have protected sick time that an employee can use at any given time, presuming it’s to tend to their own health care needs or for a family member under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This protected sick time also covers no-call/no-shows, making it murky to terminate an employee that has gone missing in action for days at a time. I suggest focusing on how the absence of this person is affecting their co-workers. Are they having to take on more work than is feasible? This may constitute an undue hardship for the company and give enough reason to deliver discipline.


2: Aggressive Behavior

For many, including myself, it is common sense that conducting yourself professionally includes avoiding offensive language and aggressive behavior in the workplace. While your first instinct may be to write up an employee who has had an aggressive outburst full of curse words, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) says otherwise. Mental health issues may impact behavioral problems, such as outbursts, so tread carefully. Before jumping to discipline, make sure you are fully informed and accommodate your employees within the guidelines of the labor laws.


3: Inappropriate Social Media Activity

We have all seen stories splashed across the headlines about employees being terminated for misuse of their personal social media accounts. Misuse can range from being generally offensive, to bad mouthing their employer. If you happen upon a worker’s Facebook page where they are posting unsavory updates about their workdays, remember that social media accounts are now protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Take the time to carefully consider the severity of the negative online presence before moving forward with any disciplinary action.


Remember that your team has been hired at your company because they are competent and well suited for their positions. Steer clear of any knee-jerk reactions to discipline an employee for not adhering to what you may deem as being professional, because those lines are constantly moving. Trust that the National Labor Relations Board has put rules in place to protect workers for rightful reasons. Your employees are going above and beyond for your company, so going above and beyond to accommodate them will surely result in a more happy and productive workplace!



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