Michigan Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

Michigan Discipline: What you need to know

Progressive discipline is a disciplinary model in which the severity of the penalty increases each time an employee commits an infraction. Generally, a progressive discipline scale begins with an oral reprimand, followed by a written warning, suspension, 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.
For a Limited Time receive a FREE HR Report on the "Critical HR Recordkeeping”.  This exclusive special report covers hiring records, employment relationships, termination records, litigation issues, electronic information issues, tips for better recordkeeping, and a list of legal requirements.  Download Now
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.
In a groundbreaking decision, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that an employer's establishment of policies could give rise to contractual rights even though the policy could be unilaterally amended without notice by the employer and contained no reference to a specific employee (Toussaint v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 408 Mich. 579 (1980)).
Under the rationale of this case, the employee needed only to demonstrate that it was his or her reasonable expectation during the period of employment that the employer's policies were binding.
In more recent years, Michigan courts have adopted a more rigorous standard in interpreting oral statements or promises as implied employment contracts. They have recognized that oral promises are difficult to verify, especially in the employment context when employees may misinterpret an employer's oral statements as a promise of job ...

Read more about Discipline