Can I Sue For Unfair Discipline?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about suing employer:

Can I sue for being wrongfully written-up?

Signed, Frustrated and Angry

Dear Frustrated and Angry:

We’re not a legal site, so we can’t give you a definitive answer. You may want to consult with an attorney on a brief, free consultation. However, we can give you some general guidelines. Unless you can show that a federal law related to equal employment opportunity was violated (the discipline was solely because of your gender, ethnicity, age, etc.) it is doubtful that you can sue. Another time in which you might have a legal remedy is if you were a whistle-blower related to contractual issues and the discipline was in retaliation for that.

Discipline is nearly always considered an internal matter within an organization. You can imagine how the courts would be clogged if everyone who thought they were written up wrongly got an attorney and went to court.When there is an employee union, discipline can be “grieved” or protested through them. Even then, the company can review it and decide there was no wrongdoing and that the discipline stands. Most disciplinary write-ups have to be reviewed at several levels.

So, unless the information is in error or a lie, more than one or two people have agreed that it is appropriate.If you have clear evidence to show you should not be held at fault, and those above you didn’t look at it or didn’t agree with it, maybe you can take it to HR, if your company has that function, and ask them to review the case or explain how you can protest it.

At the very least, consider writing a memo in which you detail the reasons you think the disciplinary action was unfair. Ask that it be placed in your permanent record, so anyone reviewing your file would see another side to the story.I’m sorry if you were given a write-up that you think you didn’t deserve. It’s bad enough to get one when you DO know you probably deserve it. I hope you’re able to move forward from here and overcome your negative feelings. I also hope those who gave you the write-up and/or approved it, will eventually realize they were wrong. If they do, they might not ever be able to admit it openly, but their treatment of you will reflect a change over time. I hope you see that soon.Best wishes to you through all of this.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.