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Determining Just Cause for Disciplinary Action

Introduction

A highly disciplined workforce is required to enhance the success of an organization. In light of this, the human resource (HR) department should come up with the appropriate disciplinary mechanisms to address issues arising in the workplace (Budd, 2010). However, it is important to note that the action taken against an employee should be deemed fair by the relevant stakeholders.

According to Davis (2008), just cause is a labor arbitration standard commonly used in the United States of America. Most contracts used by labor unions in the country adopt this standard to promote job security. It protects workers from arbitrary and unfair disciplinary measures from employers. Such measures include, among others, suspensions and terminations (Koven & Smith, 2006). In cases where the union feels that its member has been treated unfairly, the services of an arbitrator may be sought (Mitchell, 2007a). In such instances, the employer is required to prove just cause for the disciplinary action against the employee to be sustained.

In this paper, the author will draft a memorandum outlining the standards used to determine just cause for disciplinary action. A list of seven steps that should be followed will be highlighted.

Standards to Determine Just Cause for Disciplinary Action

Overview

According to Davis (2008), just cause can be described as proof of violation of an organization’s rule or policy. As such, employers need to make sure that they can be able to support and justify their decisions before taking any disciplinary action (Koven & Smith, 2006). In some cases, the offense committed by the employee does not need to be addressed in the organization’s policies. The employer is only required to show that the actions by the member of staff warrant suspension, discharge, or any other forms of discipline (Mitchell, 2007b). The arbitrator is charged with the responsibility of determining whether or not the worker’s wrongdoing can be proven (Budd, 2010). At the same time, the arbitration process seeks to determine whether the action taken against the employee should be upheld or modified.

The arbitrator should follow seven steps to determine just cause. They are in form of criteria that must be fulfilled to sustain the disciplinary action taken against the employee (Mitchell, 2007c). Failure to meet the criteria does not necessarily lead to the withdrawal of the disciplinary measure (Koven & Smith, 2006). On the contrary, the arbitrator may require the employer to modify the action to be taken against the worker. The modification is expected to create a fit between the offense committed and the disciplinary action is taken.

Criteria to Determine Just Cause

The seven steps to determine just cause for disciplinary action include:

Notice the employer must inform employees either verbally or through writing that their actions are against the rules and policies of the organization (Davis, 2008). They must also be made aware of the potential consequences of their actions.

Reasonable order, rule, or policy

For an organization to take disciplinary measures against an employer, the management is required to prove that the rules that have been purportedly broken are reasonable (Budd, 2010). To this end, the arbitrator should ensure that the regulations relating to such issues as efficiency, order, and safety at the place of work.

Investigation

With regards to investigation, the employer is required to show that a company’s rule or policy has been violated by the employee (Koven & Smith, 2006).

Fair investigation

Here, the management is required to observe objectivity (Koven & Smith, 2006). The investigations should be conducted fairly.

Proof

About proof, the management should ensure that there is enough evidence showing that the employee is guilty before taking any disciplinary action against them (Davis, 2008).

Equal treatment

Other employees who break the same rules and regulations will need to be subjected to the same disciplinary action (Budd, 2010).

Penalty

The management will be required to ensure that the disciplinary measure taken against a worker matches the offense committed (Davis, 2008).

Conclusion

Just cause is the standard used to guide arbitration of work-related disputes. It is used by most of the labor unions operating within the US. It ensures that employees are treated fairly by their employers in a bid to promote job security (Mitchell, 2007c). Seven major steps are followed in determining just cause. To begin with, workers should be forewarned of the possibility of disciplinary action being taken against them should they continue breaking the rules (Mitchell, 2007d). At the same time, the rules put in place should be reasonable and relatively easy to comply with. Investigations should also be conducted. Fairness and objectivity should be observed while examining the conduct of the employee (Mitchell, 2007e). Before disciplinary action is taken, there should be sufficient evidence to prove that the worker is guilty. All employees should be subjected to similar disciplinary actions without discrimination. The action taken against an individual must also match the offense they have committed.

References

Budd, J. (2010). Labor relations: Striking a balance (4th ed.). London, UK: McGraw-Hill.

Davis, S. (2008). Just cause. New York: Steeple Hill Books.

Koven, A., & Smith, S. (2006). Just cause: The seven tests (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Bureau of National Affairs.

Mitchell, D. (2007a). Waldenville grievance arbitration: Part one. Web.

Mitchell, D. (2007b). Waldenville grievance arbitration: Part two. Web.

Mitchell, D. (2007c). Waldenville grievance arbitration: Part three. Web.

Mitchell, D. (2007d). Waldenville grievance arbitration: Part four. Web.

Mitchell, D. (2007e). Waldenville grievance arbitration: Part five. Web.

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