Mississippi Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

Mississippi Discipline: What you need to know

Progressive discipline is a disciplinary model in which the severity of the discipline increases each time an employee commits an infraction. Generally, the progressive discipline scale starts with an oral reprimand, followed by a written warning, suspension, and finally, termination. Progressive discipline procedures are most often found in collective bargaining agreements and in the public employment arena, but they are also common in the private sector.
There are two potential issues with having a progressive discipline procedure in an at-will employment relationship. First, it can be time-consuming to administer the steps and generate the supporting paperwork. Second, a progressive discipline procedure can, under certain circumstances, change an at-will employment relationship to a contractual one.
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If a disciplinary procedure is promised. Despite the fact that Mississippi is an "at-will" employment state, the Mississippi courts have found and enforced implied employment contracts for a definite term based on oral statements, particularly in instances in which the employee has relied on the employer's oral "promises" regarding employment to his or her detriment (Short v. Columbus Rubber Gasket Co., 535 So. 2d 61 (Miss. 1988)).
Although a casual or stray remark regarding job security will arguably rarely, if ever, change an otherwise at-will relationship, employers should train their managers and supervisors about the employer's commitment to the at-will standard and instruct them to refrain from making any specific promises or representations regarding the employment relationship to any employee.
Employee handbooks. In keeping with a strong presumption in favor of the at-will ...

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