Signed EE "Final Warning" - changed by.... HR?

A general question. I am a Supervisor.  In December, with HR present, I gave an employee a final warning for tardiness. The employee signed it, as did I in the presence of HR.

I've recently hired a new Supervisor to oversee the department in which this particular employee works. The employee was tardy this past week 2 times. The new Supervisor went to HR to ask the best manner in which to proceed with the pre-determined and documented "next steps", which would be termination. HR took the signed "Final Warning" crossed out the words "Final Warning" and wrote "Written Notice Only" and then signed it with her name and date.

What recourse do I, as the original Supervisor which wrote the "Final Notice" have?

 Many thanks in advance.




  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Without knowing anything else about the HR person or your past history with her, my first reaction is that you should address the situation with her directly first. You have the notice with the change on it, but as you explain it, you weren't present when it happened/when she made the change to the "Final Warning."  It's possible that there could just be some confusion here and that the new supervisor and HR miscommunicated. I'd give her the benefit of the doubt first, and visit with her to simply find out why she did what she did.

    If you aren't satisfied with her answer, my next question would be whether she is the head of the HR department--you only refer to her as "HR". Obviously, if she's not, you should take it up with her boss. If she is the head of the department, and you think that her decision was inappropriate--and we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves until you've heard her explanation first hand--you could take this to a higher level of management. If this employee is being given preferential treatment fby this HR person for an unjustified reason, and some other employee were to be terminated for the same behavior, your company could have trouble on its hands for not disciplining its employees consistently.

     But first, it seems clear that you need a face to face with the HR person. You should bring with you any past documentation showing the employee's past tardiness problems and be sure that you and HR are on the same page as to what the employee has done and what your disciplinary actions had been up to the point that your new supervisor went to HR for advice.

  • Hey,  perhaps HR recently has been told by this employee that he or she has been tardy for medical reasons and the change in the warning was part of accomodation.  As a former supervisor, HR may not think you do have "a need to know."

    There may be more to this situation than appears on the surface.

  • I agree that the first course of action is for you to go talk to HR to find out why this was done.  There is a lot of missing information here that you need to find out that will help you decide how to proceed. 

    One thing to keep in mind is what someone alluded to earlier - consistency.  What does your policy manual say about discipline and termination related to tardiness? Do you have an attendance policy that you follow?  You need to make sure that you are following the same set of rules for everyone that you discipline related to tardiness.  It could be that the HR person realized that when the final written warning was given that this is not the same procedure you have followed with other employees and the need to be consistent is why she changed the document.  You won't know what the real answer is until you talk to HR.


  • I also agree with the central theme here: you definitely need to get HR's side on this.  They may have valid reasons and perhaps even statutory or regulatory obligations to do what they have done.  Alternatively, the final written warning may have been premature or otherwise inappropriate relative to the way that situation is normally handled at your company.  Either way, the HR department was in the wrong for failing to notify you of what they were doing and why.

    The cynical side of me also wonders if this was done by an HR expert or if it was done by the over-self-empowering administrator.  A friend of mine recently received a very nice raise in return for a release signature due to a benefits administrator telling her supervisor that she could not move back to full time because of the heart attack she had while on their insurance last year.  Not knowing any better, he dutifully reported to her that she couldn't go back to full time and the given reason.

    There is another issue, too.  If you were to try to enforce that final written warning now, your case is weakened by the fact that the document you provide no longer says "final written warning".  Although you have a witness from the original meeting and a person who, hopefully, would report that they made the change after the meeting, hearing officers, arbitrators, external investigators, and juries are all pretty cycnical about this sort of thing and will suspect collusion.  That's not to say that you couldn't prevail, but your life has not been made easier.  Even if the final written stands as a matter of policy,  I would not terminate.  Instead, I would issue a new one for the recent tardies and give a speech about how you thought you were beyond this issue and you are really disappointed and it's the last chance, etc.  Make sure you document why you did not terminate.  That is, make sure you have a note about issuing a new final written because the prior final written had been modified.

  • Hi, there.  Just you have a progressive discipline policy relative to attendance?  If so, was the final warning made only after the prior steps were?  In other words, was the HR person intentionally protecting this employee...which is very, very wrong...or was the HR person correcting the step in the progression? 
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