• Peter Lamont, Esq.

It is "OK" to Discipline a Violent Employee, Even if Charges are Dropped

Here is the scenario: an employee has been arrested because he threatened a co-worker. Do you have to wait for the employee to be convicted before you discipline him/her? What if the police drop the chagres? What can you as an employer do? Well, you can discipline the employee for violating the company code of conduct - even if you end up being wrong. All that is required is for the employer to have an honoest belief that the employee's conduct violated company rules.

In a recent case: LaShaunda, a U.S. Postal Ser­­vice custodian, was romantically involved with a co-worker. When the co-worker broke it off, LaShaunda became upset. The two argued in the parking lot and continued their argument down the road.

According to the police, LaShaunda physically assaulted the co-worker and spat on his car. She then sent him text messages suggesting she was going to kill him. She was arrested. When her boss found out, LaShaunda was fired.

Eventually, charges were dropped. LaShaunda sued and argued her co-worker should have been fired, too.

But the court said it didn’t matter that she wasn’t prosecuted or that the co-worker might have played more than the innocent victim. What mattered was that the supervisor honestly believed LaShaunda had violated workplace rules against threats and violence. (McDaniel v. Donahoe, No. 12-CV-054944, ED CA, 2014)

If you would like more information about this topic or have general legal questions, please feel free to contact me at (973) 949-3770 or via email at pl@pjlesq.com Offices in: New Jersey & New York.

© 2010-2016, Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont & Associates. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between the firm and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.


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