What is the Requirement for a Final Warning

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about warnings:

Can a written warning be given with a member of staff present who was also involved in same incident? (For example, the training assistant manager who was also supposedly given a written warning). Also, can this be done without any paper work or investigation done first, nor any previous warnings?

Signed, Feeling Jumped On

DearĀ Feeling Jumped On:

Any issue about internal disciplinary action has to be viewed on a case by case basis. However, generally there are no legal requirements about internal discipline. If you work for a union that has a contract, there may be requirement based on that, but it doesn’t sound as though that is the case. So, unfortunately, it appears that you will need to deal with the situation as it stands. I don’t know the situation you’re considering, but let me see if I can answer your questions in a general sense:

1. I don’t think it shows good judgment to have a witness present for a warning interview when that witness was also warned. But, the role is merely that of a witness, not the deciding authority, so it is not completely wrong.

2. You asked if a final warning can be given without any prior warnings. Yes, it can. There are many times when a situation is viewed as so severe that the usual escalation of discipline is not used. An employee can be fired instantly for a very serious offense, without going through any warning phase.

3. Regarding whether or not an investigation must be done, that too would depend upon the circumstance. If the manager or supervisor saw you or saw evidence of wrongdoing, no investigation is needed. If you adamantly deny you did anything wrong and you have proof about that, or at least can present a good case, you should at least attempt to get your point across through a letter to your boss. But, if you did the thing they’re accusing you of doing, it doesn’t really matter why you did it, unless that would show you had no choice.The truth is that an employee in most jobs can be fired or disciplined for any reason at all–or no reason. That sometimes seems unfair but it keeps an employer from having to retain a poor employee or an employee he no longer needs or can afford. Employees are viewed as being able to leave if they really want to, so they don’t have to stay if the boss is that unfair to others.I assume you are the one being warned and are worried and angry over it, which is normal.

The best you can do now is to be careful not to do the thing again and to focus on work. You can rebuild your reputation and your job security, it just takes working to at least show a positive face, no matter how you feel, and doing your job so well that no one will want to see you go. Best wishes to you with this. If you can keep moving forward you can put this behind you, and that’s what I hope you’ll do.

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.