Lawsuit alert: Beware disciplining for infractions of seldom-enforced rules.

Sometimes, supervisors get frustrated with workers they consider trouble makers because they complain all the time. Those bosses need to think twice before they retaliate by strictly enforcing work rules--especially if they have often ignored those rules in the past.

Throwing the book at an employee who has filed a complaint, claimed discrimination or otherwise caused perceived problems can backfire quickly.

That's especially true if the employee winds up being demoted, discharged or transferred as a result.

Recent case: Shelly had worked for Wilkes-Barre Behavioral Hospital for years when she asked HR for permission to work in an air conditioned office during her pregnancy. Her request was denied.

She then complained about pregnancy discrimination. Shortly after, she was fired for an alleged 36-minute unauthorized absence.

Shelly sued, alleging retaliation. She told the court that previously, she had never been required to clock out...

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