Montana Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

Montana 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. In the past, progressive discipline procedures were most often found in collective bargaining agreements and in the public employment arena, but they have become increasingly common in the private sector.
There are two major issues with having a progressive discipline procedure. 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. At the same time, however, following the steps of a progressive discipline policy can be useful in proving that an employee was terminated for just cause and was not discharged in violation of state law.
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Written policies. Montana's Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act governs discipline and discharge of employees. Under the Act, an employee can prove wrongful discharge by showing that his or her employer violated the express provisions of its own written personnel policy (MCA Sec. 39-2-904).
If an employer has a progressive discipline policy, it should follow it. Not only can an employer's failure to follow its own discipline policy lead to a lawsuit under the Act, but inconsistent discipline can lead to claims of discrimination and unfair treatment. In addition, disciplining an employee without documenting his or her performance deficiencies may be evidence that the employee was disciplined in ...

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