North Dakota Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

North Dakota 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. North Dakota employers should be extremely cautious about allowing anyone in the organization to make any promises to an employee or applicant. In a number of cases, the state's courts have determined that if an employer establishes a disciplinary procedure to be followed before an employee is terminated, that policy may be considered a binding contract.
Employee handbooks. The North Dakota Supreme Court has held that under certain circumstances, the provisions of an employee handbook or progressive discipline policy may alter an at-will employment relationship unless the handbook contains a clear, conspicuous, and unambiguous disclaimer (Hunt v. Banner Health System, 720 N.W.2d 49 (N.D. 2006)).
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Policies. Any listing of the kinds of conduct for which an ...

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