Bryan Mazzola, Partner, Boyd Richards Parker & Colonnelli
The root causes. In virtually every claim of discrimination by an employee, one of two things is the cause. Either the employee’s performance led to termination, or management changed, and rules were suddenly enforced that were not enforced before.
Create a paper trail. I would strongly recommend that the board and managing agent work together to create a paper trail if an employee is not performing properly. The employee should be given notice of what the poor performance is, along with the union if it’s a union building. It makes things much easier when you can lay out that this person was subject to what they call progressive discipline.
Don’t let popular employees slide. Some boards are very reluctant to discipline an employee they like. That’s going to come back and bite you because if you let someone slide, they’re going to ask later why you suddenly started enforcing a rule that wasn’t enforced before. The other lesson is that board members need to understand that they’re employers under the law. Make sure that your staff is being trained properly and that the training is current. Make sure there’s a process in place to allow someone to bring a complaint of discrimination if they feel like they’ve been wronged. I also would caution boards to adopt nondiscrimination policies and make sure they’re distributed to staff members.