Do You Believe Your Upcoming Disciplinary Meeting Is A Pretext For Discrimination? This Is What To Do
How do you handle an upcoming disciplinary meeting at work when you're pretty sure that you're being treated unfairly? Whether you and the boss simply don't get along or you think that the disciplinary meeting is a cover for some sort of discrimination, you need to handle it the right way in order to legally protect yourself. This is what you need to know.
Go into the meeting as prepared as possible.
When you head into the meeting, take a pen and notebook with you. You want to note down anything that might be of use later:
- the names and job titles of anyone present in the meeting
- the names of anyone on duty in the office or workplace that witnessed the meeting taking place
- the date and time of the meeting
- what specific complaints were lodged against you
- whether or not you were given a chance to respond to the complaints
- any disparaging remarks made about you that aren't directly related to your job (including comments that could be considered sexist or racist)
While it's likely to be a frustrating and emotional experience, don't allow your emotions to gain control—stay civil. Ask for an opportunity to respond to the complaint and state your case clearly and quietly.
Don't sign anything except the receipt.
If you're asked to sign any sort of "behavior plan" or other modification, decline. Tell your employer that you can't sign the agreement without speaking to your attorney first. Agreements like that are often the first step employers use when they want to fire an employee—they can later be used as a pretext for writing you up again. The requirements within are often difficult to fulfill or your "satisfactory" completion relies on the judgment of the person who has already written you up.
You'll likely be handed a disciplinary slip and asked to sign it. More than likely, the slip will state that you agree to the facts as they are presented. Do not simply sign this. Instead, write "this acknowledges my receipt of this form only—rebuttal to follow" and then sign your name. This prevents the slip from being used as "evidence" that you admitted to being a poor employee and preserves your ability to respond to the complaint at a later date.
Talk to an attorney to see if you have a case for employment discrimination.
Generally, if you think that the disciplinary is a pretext for something else, you should get some legal counsel—especially if you're on the verge of being fired (or think you may be). If you've been demoted to a lower position, transferred to a less desirable department, or suspended without pay, you should also talk to an attorney.
Your attorney will try to determine if you have a potential discrimination case. Some indicators that you may be the victim of discrimination include a clean work record up to this point and disciplinary action taken shortly after you file a workers' comp claim, develop a serious illness, or have a conflict with management over something illegal or unethical. Take your concerns and any evidence that you have directly to an attorney's office for help.