A disciplinary review or corrective action from your supervisor can significantly impact your work performance and behavior. In addition, disciplinary records that indicate poor job skills and deficiencies can affect your ability to acquire additional training and skills, transfer to other departments or to be considered for promotions within the organization. Employees have valuable input regarding their job performance and supervisors, and managers aren’t infallible. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find companies that have established guidelines for employees who want to lodge a complaint or register their concerns about disciplinary and corrective action. In filing your complaint, follow your company’s guidelines to the letter regarding employment actions with which you aren’t satisfied.
Gather all the documentation and notes you took during the disciplinary action meeting with your supervisor. Disciplinary and corrective action should always be conducted in a private setting, and employees should be permitted to take notes during conferences with their supervisors. The supervisor also should have produced a written record of the discipline or corrective action and any supporting documentation.
Draft a summary of the meeting, particularly if your complaint is based in part on not receiving documentation concerning the write-up. In your summary, recall as much detail as possible – accurate recall will be especially helpful when you meet with your human resources representative.
Review your documents carefully and jot down impressions you have about the meeting. It’s helpful to write down your thoughts while they’re fresh in your mind. However, take time to collect and process your thoughts before you visit the human resources department. Don’t go into the human resources department when your emotions are still fresh from the disappointment of what you believe is an unfair employment action. It’s in your best interest to approach this matter calmly and from a level-headed perspective.
Read your employee handbook for information about how to file a complaint. If your handbook doesn’t explain the process, contact a member of the human resources staff to ask if there’s a process you should follow. By this time, you should have already given thought to the basis of your complaint and what concerns you about the disciplinary action you received in case you are asked to describe the reason why you want to file a formal complaint.
Obtain a copy of your personnel file, if you believe it’s necessary at this point. When you actually file your complaint, a review of your personnel file may be one of the steps in the process to determine the supervisor’s justification for the disciplinary write-up.
Type your complaint yourself or complete any forms your human resources representative gives you to file a written complaint. In your written complaint, state your concerns clearly yet succinctly. If there are several points on which you disagree with the disciplinary write-up, enumerate each one and explain the reason why you disagree. Complete this step during nonworking hours, if at all possible. Make photocopies for your records and submit an original complaint form to which you should attach supporting documentation.
Prepare a statement to use during a face-to-face meeting to discuss your complaint. Base your statement on facts contained in your written complaint. This will help keep you focused and on-topic . Practice your verbal presentation. Enlist the help of a family member or friend to help you, if necessary. This will provide you with a much-needed objective stance to prepare you for a scheduled conference with human resources and your supervisor.
Human resources best practices strongly recommend that supervisors and management document all employment actions, which includes disciplinary and corrective actions, and performance records. In addition, the employee should acknowledge receipt of his copy of the record, and a copy should be placed in the employee's personnel file.
In your interaction with human resources staff and the supervisor who conducted the disciplinary review, refrain from using language that’s accusatory or offensive. Although you might feel slighted by a disciplinary write-up you received, reacting to it in a confrontational way or responding in an unprofessional manner will make it difficult to resolve your issues.