Properly determining the point at which  suspension or dismissal of an employees is appropriate can be tricky. A lack of knowledge and proper training in this area can cause major problems, as seen by the significant rise in employee related litigation.  It’s really a last resort with an employee, and an opportunity for them to keep their job.

The existence of clear office policy is the foundation of successful employee relations. It also lays the vital groundwork for any disciplinary action, including suspensions.

The most important thing a practice can have in place for proper HR management is office policy that clearly lays out which types of workplace violations result in what types of penalties.

Your first resource is the Federal Labor Standards Act, as well as state and local laws.

The most important policies (covered in the Federal Labor Standards Act) concern alcohol and drug use, sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, and violations of state or federal regulations.

You must ensure that your office policy explicitly details what the violations are, and the consequences of violating them.

For example:

  • Automatic discharge for any employee under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work, or while driving an office vehicle.
  • Automatic one-week suspension without pay for any employee found guilty of harassing another employee.

In most cases you are completely within your rights to suspend an employee without pay if you have clearly informed them via written policy that their violation, if continued, will result in suspension. Remember, clear policies are the key!

However, suspensions without pay has limits. Basing an unpaid suspension on something more subjective, such as poor quantity or quality of work, can be a potential employer problem.

Your policies must be based on objective measurements, and clearly outlined in the written documents.

Consulting with an employment attorney is always the right move.

It is imperative that you consult an employment attorney when:

  • Formulating your policies to ensure that they comply with state and local laws.
  • You encounter a potential suspension or discharge situation coming from a prohibited act.

If your policies follow proper legal guidelines, and you uniformly enforce them in the practice, you will generally be safe legally. However, if you pick and choose when to enforce them, you will open yourself up to discrimination charges and lawsuits.


We are here to help – and have great resources on building proper office policy for your practice. Call us today to learn more, or simply click the button below to schedule a demo. 

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