Can We Be Ordered To Sign A Disciplinary Form?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about write up rules:

On my job, we have a write-up that only lists the allegations and their proposed solutions. There is no space to write your explanation of the situation or rebuttal. We are also forced to sign the write-up or face an additional write-up for not signing the original write-up. Even when the allegations are false. Is the form legal and can they legally force one’s signature?

Signed, Forced and Frustrated

DearĀ Forced and Frustrated:

Many employees find signing at the bottom of write-up to be insulting and they don’t want to do it. However, signing that you received the form or that you are aware of what the action is about and what the decision was, is not an admission of guilt, it is merely a receipt. In fact, it probably says something about acknowledging receipt or understanding the actions taken. But I doubt it says, “I agree with this decision.” Or, “This is to affirm that I am guilty.”

It is just a way to prove that you saw it.Those forms are legal and employees can be told to sign them or risk other discipline The reason for that is that organizations have even more problems when employees allege they never saw a disciplinary action or didn’t know they had been counseled or advised. By getting a signature right on the form they can prove you saw it. And, since they require the signature, you don’t have to worry that a disciplinary action will be put in your folder without you being aware of it.If you have a rebuttal or statement, you could type that on a separate sheet and ask that it be kept in your personnel folder. That way, if your folder is reviewed in the future, both the action and your statement can be seen.Or, in the signature space you could write you signature, then next to it: “I received this but I do not agree.” Or, “Received. Note: This accusation is false.”

About not having space on the form, there are a couple of issues to consider about that: If you are receiving a disciplinary action, all of the deliberations are over with. You have either been asked for an explanation already or evidence has been obtained already, without your statement. Either way, probably nothing you say is going to make a difference at that point. That is just a sad fact when you are to that point in the situation.

Rarely is a write-up a big surprise. So, if there was evidence to present or a rebuttal to offer, the time to have presented it was before the disciplinary decision was made. If you did so, it will probably be maintained as part of the disciplinary package anyway.Unfortunately, sometimes people get in trouble even though the allegations are false. If you didn’t have any evidence to counter the accusation, you may get in trouble anyway. If you DO have evidence but you didn’t present it, write a letter to the HR section or other section or person responsible for personnel actions and ask for a review or the action. No one is happy to write-up an employee, so if you have proof, a witness or some other compelling argument they would like to see it. However, the bottom line on your question is this: Yes the form is legal and you can be required to sign that you received notice of a personnel action. (You can still refuse to sign it, but it won’t benefit you to not do so, and you could get in more trouble or even lose your job.) I hope this clarifies some aspects of this requirement. It is done in almost every work place, to protect both the employee and the employer. Best wishes to you!

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.