punishment for fighting?
I was informed this morning by a manager that there was a physical altercation between 2 employees during a weekend work shift (warehouse). Apparently a disagreement led to a shoving match and a few other employees had to step in. According to the manager, the altercation was brief, the situation cooled down and the two employees worked the rest of the shift (a few hours) without incident. (Note: This manager isn't a warehouse supervisor; he was managing the store during the same shift.)
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
While on the one hand no “harm” came out of the incident, I’m wondering what my next steps should be. Both employees are scheduled to work together again tomorrow. I plan on speaking to each of them before I allow them to work together again, not only to find out what caused the altercation, but to communicate that fighting in any form is not acceptable. Should I do more than that? (Their actual supervisor in the warehouse is currently on a leave of absence, so it really falls on me to decide what should be done).
I confess I feel a bit conflicted because one of the employees has been with us for 4 years and is well-liked by everyone (myself included). He's basically the last person you'd envision picking a fight with anyone. The other employee, who I suspect was the instigator, has only been with us about a month.
Even though our employee handbook says that fighting in the workplace can be grounds for termination, it wouldn’t feel right to harshly discipline the long-term employee. And, of course, I wouldn’t dole out different punishments for the same offense (since both of them shoved each other) to the other employee. But if the new employee is a troublemaker, I’d at least like to issue a written warning/documentation of the incident in case it happens again (so that we can justify terminating him if need be) even if no harm ultimately came out of this incident. Any thoughts from those of you who've dealt with similar situations?