When Facing Workplace Discipline, Don't Make Things Worse!
/ Author: Robert Brink
/ Categories: Guide magazine /
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When Facing Workplace Discipline, Don't Make Things Worse!

Often, it’s a worker’s poor behaviour after the incident that undermines what could have been a favourable disciplinary outcome.

By Robert Brink 

A truism of political scandals is that the cover-up is usually worse than the crime. A political leader’s short-sighted decision to avoid detection can turn a small mistake into a career-ending catastrophe. It has happened the world over and since at least the dawn of recorded history. 

If you or a coworker are ever facing workplace discipline, contact your union steward or representative, take a deep breath, and say to yourself what those politicians should have said to themselves: don’t make things worse!

Workplace discipline meetings are stressful and not fun. The employer presents its understanding of the incident or pattern that needs addressing (performance, behaviour, attendance, or something else) and then issues a warning, suspension, or even in some cases a termination. 

If you don’t believe the discipline is warranted, or if you think it’s excessive, talk with your union steward or representative about filing a grievance. That often leads to a grievance meeting, and if there’s no resolution, the matter can be referred to an arbitrator. That is the process for challenging the employer’s discipline decisions.

There are many discipline grievances that could have been resolved favourably (reduced or removed discipline, reinstatement of employment, payment for lost time) were it not for a worker’s conduct post-incident: attempts to interfere with the employers’ investigation, lies about the matter-at-hand, or unwise behaviour during a meeting.

Discipline and grievance meetings are not opportunities to tell the employer what you think of their body type, face, smell, or shortcomings running the business. They are also not opportunities to tell the employer about your coworkers’ shortcomings. It’s not a chance to tell the employer you’ll “make them pay” or that “they’ll regret it.” Don’t make things worse.

Your union steward and representative will work with you to try to get the most favourable outcome possible to any discipline situation. When a good resolution seems near, the last thing you want to hear is “and now let’s talk about the vulgar texts you sent to HR about this.”

If you find yourself in a workplace discipline situation, be respectful, stay calm and focused, and fight any impulses you might have to say or do something that could make things worse.

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