An employee was caught on tape harassing a customer in a large retail store. The manger consulted with her general manager, who consulted with their HR department, who consulted with their lawyer. The lawyer, the HR department, and the general manager decided, after looking at the video tape, a punishment of suspending the employee for five days, and sending the employee to a training class was a justified and proper punishment. Four months later, the video tape found its way to a TV station that ran the tape on its news show. The news reported that the employee had been reprimanded by the company, but the public outcry was extremely embarrassing to the store. So much so, that the store fired the employee, and the general manager who helped decide the punishment. Both were terminated even though there was no evidence of any harassing of customers since that time of initial violation and punishment.

Seems a little far-fetched? Well, it just happened the other day. Not in a retail store, but on a college campus. Not just harassment, but verbal and physical abuse of players on the men’s basketball team by the Head Coach. You have probably seen the video’s and read the stories, and while it seems firing the coach and the athletic director was really the right thing to do, remember that they had already reprimanded the coach, suspending him and fining him. So, the coach was really punished twice for the same offence, and the athletic director was fired for not punishing him enough. Even though the president of the University signed off on the punishment, he ended up firing the two employees. There was no evidence that the coach treated the players the same way after his suspension.

Could a scenario of the retail store happen? It could if it based its HR procedures like the university did. While the ultimate punishment was probably warranted to start with, punishing someone twice for the same offence could really come back to haunt a company. You can read a recap of the university events as well as commentary on the HR ramifications by John Hollon, editor at, here.

At Managepoint, we are your outsourced HR department. We do payroll, benefits, training and administration, and we do it better and less expensive than you can do for yourself. Call us today to find out how we can become your HR department. You can also learn more by signing up for our newsletter on the contact form on the homepage of our website.

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