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What to Do When an Employee Refuses to Sign a Disciplinary Notice

Businesses must discipline their employees fairly and consistently in accordance with company policy. An employer should keep proper records of poor performance and misconduct in the worker’s personnel file, including text messages, emails, and formal warnings, along with documentation of the employer’s attempt to correct the problem.

While California law does not require an employer to issue written disciplinary notices, it is usually a good idea to do so. However, as a poorly worded notice can compound the problem, the employer should carefully draft its written warnings with specific facts cogently stated and without real or imagined legal conclusions or vague generalities.

Additionally, to properly document that the employee received the written warning, the disciplinary notice should include section for an employee’s acknowledgment and response. The “acknowledgment” should clearly be for the receipt of the notice only. That section should also afford space for the employee to deny, rebut, comment, or otherwise respond at his/her option, with extra paper provided if he or she wishes.

If the employee refuses to sign acknowledging receipt of the notice, the employer should attempt to find out why rather than declaring the worker further at fault for insubordination.

If all else fails, a witness can and should confirm in writing the date and time the employee received the notice and that the employee refused to sign it.

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For further assistance, please contact one of our attorneys: Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth

June 29, 2018