Maryland Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

Maryland 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 becoming increasingly common 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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If a disciplinary procedure is promised. While Maryland courts are fairly conservative in upholding the concept of at-will employment, employers should be extremely cautious about allowing anyone in the organization to make any promises to an employee or applicant. Maryland courts recognize claims for breach of implied contract based on employee handbook provisions or detailed oral promises that specifically limit the employer’s discretion or establish discharge procedures (Staggs v. Blue Cross of Maryland, 486 A2d 798 (1987)). However, employers may avoid implied contracts by including a clear and conspicuous disclaimer in the employee handbook (Castiglione v. Johns Hopkins Hospital, 517 A2d 786 (1986)).
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Policies. Any listing of the kinds of conduct for which an employee can be disciplined ...

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