Four Steps to Take if You Have Been Disciplined at Work

May 28, 2021
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Life is sometimes messy and even the best employees can find themselves facing disciplinary actions at work. Unfortunately, disciplinary actions can lead to mistakes that can further jeopardize your job or result in termination. Whether the action taken by your employer was fair or without a valid basis, it’s important to understand your options. If you have been disciplined at work and are worried about your job, you may want to speak with a Maryland employment attorney before it’s too late. 

1. Stay Calm

It can be humiliating to be disciplined by your employer, especially if your coworkers know that you have been reprimanded. Even if the disciplinary action is kept confidential, it can still be emotionally taxing, stressful, and frustrating. Whether you deserved the reprimand or not, it is vital that you keep your cool and stay professional. Many employees make their situation worse in the following ways: 

  • Complaining to other employees about the reprimand
  • Discussing how you were reprimanded or what was said during the meeting
  • Denigrating individual employees or your employer in general
  • Refusing job assignments that are within your scope of employment
  • Refusing to perform your job duties or refusing to perform as expected

Even if you strongly disagree with your reprimand, it is important to not provide your employer with any reason to take further disciplinary action. If you feel that your reprimand was undeserved, you should consider speaking with a Maryland employment attorney. 

2. Review Your Employer’s Disciplinary Policy

Most employers have a written disciplinary policy that is often included in the employee handbook. If you have been disciplined by your employer, reviewing your employer’s policy is important for two reasons: 

  1. It provides helpful context. Understanding how your employer’s disciplinary process works can bring some much-needed clarity to a stressful situation. For example, you may learn that there are additional steps that your employer will take prior to termination. There may be appeal procedures that you can follow. It should also provide clarification as to your rights and responsibilities throughout the process. Even if the process has been completed from your employer’s perspective, understanding what happens next can be helpful.
  2. You may identify defects in how your reprimand was handled. Generally speaking, employers are obligated to follow their own policies. It is not uncommon for employers to fail to follow their own disciplinary procedures, especially if the policy hasn’t been reviewed or updated in a long time. If you feel that you are being discriminated against or otherwise being treated unfairly, identifying defects in the disciplinary process can be strong evidence that you have been wrongfully reprimanded. 

Unfortunately, employer policies can sometimes be convoluted and difficult to understand, or vague and ambiguous. An experienced Maryland employment attorney can review your employer’s disciplinary policy and explain what it means for you. 

3. Document the Issue

Some employers are better than others in documenting the basis for your reprimand. Whether your employer has detailed documentation or not, it’s important for you to keep your own documentation. This can include taking detailed notes concerning a specific incident based on your best recollection or carefully documenting the efforts you have made to address your employer’s concerns. In addition, you should also ask your employer to put its decision in writing, citing the specific reasons for their decision as well as how you violated company policy.

4. Communicate

Even if your employer’s disciplinary process doesn’t allow for you to appeal or request consideration, you may want to consider engaging in some dialogue once the sting of your reprimand has worn off. You can request a meeting with your employer to discuss what actions you will take to address their concerns or how those concerns may be misplaced. Of course, you should remain professional and courteous at all times. Engaging in some dialogue with your employer can improve your relationship and help you move past this unpleasant experience. 

That said, if you feel that you are being discriminated against, it may be better to avoid in-person conversations. Instead, consider documenting the basis for your belief in a thorough email or letter. A Maryland employment attorney can help you write this communication to make sure the necessary information is included. 

Talk to Maryland Employment Attorney J.W. Stafford

If you believe that you are being unfairly reprimanded or discriminated against, it’s important to remember that you have rights. Maryland employment attorney J.W. Stafford can review your case, provide guidance, and take legal action to protect you or your job. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today at 410-514-6099.