Avoiding Even the Appearance of Company Retribution
HR policies govern the conduct of the management and supervisory teams to avoid even a hint of reprisal. For example:
Take meeting minutes. Be sure to do so in all meetings that involve promotions and demotions, hiring and firing decisions, reprimands and other corrective actions. This protects the management team against allegations of retaliation, especially if time elapses between the decision to reprimand an employee and a potentially protected action.
Keep personnel files updated. Disciplinary action should not be undertaken unless the file features a paper trail denoting training, coaching and reprimands. Moreover, if the worker is to be let go for cause, it is vital to have a signed acceptance page of the employee handbook on hand.
Postpone disciplinary action. If the worker recently blew the whistle about a workplace issue, it may be wise to postpone any disciplinary action until the issue is resolved. This protects the company from appearing to retaliate against the worker.
Document cooperation with officials. It is a good idea to document the company’s cooperation in the wake of an employee complaint. The openness with which the management team welcomes corrective actions is crucial to establishing there is little basis for retaliation.
Another management action, which a worker could interpret as retaliatory in the wake of protected conduct, includes a change in work schedules. Further examples include a sudden transfer to another office, reversal of a long-standing fringe benefit and any other process by which the company changes the established status quo.