Georgia Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

Georgia Discipline: What you need to know

Progressive discipline is a policy in which the severity of the penalty increases each time an employee commits an infraction. Generally, a progressive discipline scale begins with oral reprimands, followed by written warnings, suspensions, and finally, discharge. Progressive discipline procedures are most often found in collective bargaining agreements and in the public sector, but they are also found in the private sector.
There are two major problems with having a progressive discipline procedure in an at-will employment relationship. First, it can be time-consuming to administer the steps and generate all the accompanying paperwork. Second, a progressive discipline procedure can, under certain circumstances, transform an otherwise at-will employment relationship into a contractual one.
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There is a comprehensive discussion of disciplinary procedures available.
Statements as policy. Generally speaking, the Georgia courts will not find or enforce an implied employment contract unless there is evidence suggesting the intent to create a contract. Nevertheless, the courts have ruled that an at-will employee has the right to bring a claim for breach of an oral contract (Walker Elec. Co. v. Byrd, 281 Ga. App. 190 (2006)).
Thus, while a casual or stray remark will rarely result in the creation of an employment contract, employers should not make any types of promises to their employees regarding terms and conditions of employment or job security.
Employee handbooks. Georgia courts have generally held that policy statements contained in an employee handbook or manual do not create an employment contract, especially when the handbook contains a clear disclaimer. There is more information ...

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