Managing Misconduct? Keep This in Mind.

Beth Dean 08.16.19
88 Working Sunflair Dude

How do you handle a not so great employee?

The workforce is filled with capable, professional adults with good intentions, working together to enrich the company, each other, and their families…and then, there are some bad apples.

Unfortunately, a rotten employee will sometimes find their way into a company. Maybe this person spreads malicious gossip. Maybe this person only feels fulfilled at the expense of others. Maybe this person is a thief. This person is certainly not the norm, but their presence can become so overwhelming that it infects the whole company.

So how do you manage blatant misconduct? There are many ways, including solid recruitment and screening processes that don’t let the rotten employee through the door in the first place. Assuming we don’t have perfect future-predicting capabilities, sometimes they slip through. 

Here’s one important thing to keep in mind when managing misconduct: Don’t terminate too fast…or too slowly.

Some managers are ready to call it quits the moment an employee deviates from the norm. There’s no reason to terminate a potentially great employee if things can be worked out. To terminate an employee for misconduct, the act usually must be egregious to win an unemployment claim or avoid a wrongful termination or discrimination claim. 

There are some situations in particular where managers should be careful not to mistake for misconduct, including: 

  • Excessive time off for medical problems or work comp injury treatment
  • Job performance issues that can be fixed through better training and expectations
  • Legitimate complaints about company or manager practices, employee pay, or safety
  • Nonconformity due to religion, gender, or other differences protected by Title VII

On the other side, managers are sometimes too slow to action. They hold on to the optimistic and admirable hope that the mess can be fixed. Others may be afraid to confront the issue head-on and want to passive-aggressively let the person go in a “layoff.” Sometimes, it’s time to let go, and it’s important to record the reasons accurately. 

Sometimes, the situation demands immediate action for the safety of others. Some situations in which an employee may need to be immediately terminated include: 

  • Violent threats or acts
  • Proven theft (be sure to include legal authorities)
  • Severely unprofessional or malicious misconduct
  • Sexual harassment

One item to note: Many states have at-will employment, meaning there is no formal contract and the employment relationship can end at any time for any reason. While at-will employment does add a layer of protection to both parties, we must stress that you should use it carefully and sparingly.

We think of an at-will termination as a quick route to the courtroom since there are so many laws that protect employees , making it difficult for the company to prove that one of those protected reasons wasn’t the real reason for termination.

Above all, use your Nextep HR business partners. They’re professionally certified experts who have seen some of the worst cases of misconduct and can walk you through your own issues, step by step. 

If you’re facing a rotten employee or are in need of human resource guidance, please contact Nextep’s HR team.

Also on Nextep

Rest Up! For Illinois Workers, ODRISA is Now Law Beginning in 2023, The One Day Rest In Seven Act (ODRISA) allows Illinois employees the right to take one day off in seven, plus breaks during a long workday.  Here’s a breakdown of the basics: Employees must get a minimum of 24 hours of rest every […]
Read more
Starting in 2023, Illinois workers have expanded job-protected bereavement leave under the Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA). Let’s dig into the details. FBLA allows eligible employees to take up to 10 work days of unpaid leave following the death of a family member. Specifically, they are allowed time for any of the events covered by […]
Read more
How to Ask the Right Things, Plus 25 Sample Job Interview Questions When searching for the right employee to join your team, job interview questions are essential in narrowing down an employer’s candidate pool and allowing top candidates to showcase their innovation, ideas, and goals.  But sometimes, it’s even more important to consider how you […]
Read more
Asking about criminal history is risky business. Here’s what to do instead. You may be breaking the law if your job application includes a checkbox asking the candidate if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime. Banning this question during the application process, sometimes referred to as “ban the box,” gives people with criminal histories […]
Read more
Your medical leave could qualify for paid time off if you work in Colorado.  We’re familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing qualified employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for themselves or a family member during certain medical or family events. But the FAMLI program takes this coverage […]
Read more
Asking about salary history may be banned in your state. “So, tell me about your salary history at your current job.” It’s a typical job interview question, often used by recruiters to help gauge whether the candidate would be satisfied with the salary offered at their company. Sometimes, though, the question can help them determine […]
Read more
If you don’t have transparent pay, you may be legally obliged to do it soon.   California is the latest of several states to mandate transparent pay in job postings.  When advertising a job vacancy, California businesses with 15 or more employees must now show a salary range that the employee may expect to earn […]
Read more
Regardless of the turnover rate, every company at some point has faced the struggle of employee recruitment. Selecting the right candidate for your workforce is tough, and there are many factors to consider.  The action items below can provide your company with tactics to minimize risk and help ensure you hire the right person to […]
Read more
The new year brings both new resolutions and state minimum wage and tax changes. We’ve compiled what employers need to know to stay compliant and prepare your 2023 budget! Minimum Wage Several states are increasing their minimum wage. As a reminder, when federal and state or local payroll laws differ, the employer must adhere to […]
Read more
How do you handle employee promotions? When promoting one of your star employees to a management or supervisory position, companies should take the time to train and help the manager adjust to their new role.  An employee’s relationship with their immediate supervisor is one of the top five factors in job satisfaction, so a new […]
Read more
It should be no surprise that your employees post on social media or even blog throughout the day ─ maybe even on company time or equipment. And while they may not post on the clock, it’s unlikely that after hours they think their social media or blog posts could have consequences at work. While employers […]
Read more
The holidays can raise confusing questions on how to pay your employees, especially since there are separate rules for nonexempt and exempt employees. Here is a quick reminder on how to pay both groups during holidays. Pay for Nonexempt Employees If your business is closed for the holiday(s), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does […]
Read more

Download Our App