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corrective discipline

Mark R. Sherman


The prevalence of the employment‐at‐will doctrine in the US has, until recently, resulted in only minimal emphasis on appropriate approaches to discipline for employees who were not covered by labor agreements. At‐will employees could legally be discharged for any number of unfair reasons, so there was little practical or scholarly interest in the procedural and substantive fairness of their treatment. On the other hand, roughly half of all grievance arbitration ( see rights arbitration ) in the US has traditionally involved determining whether management issued discipline for “just cause.” As a consequence, the earliest authoritative pronouncements on the meaning of corrective discipline and progressive discipline are found in the texts of arbitration decisions. In his early decision in the International Harvester case ( Elkouri and Elkouri, 1985 ), Arbitrator Seward explained corrective discipline in the following manner: “corrective rather than retributive discipline…involves more than the mere matching of penalties with offenses…its purpose is not to ‘get even’ with the employee but to influence his future conduct.” From these humble beginnings in the realm of arbitral jurisprudence, corrective discipline has since become a fundamental principle of human resource management. This is largely because it is consistent with the concept of employees as human resources who ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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