While you investigate misconduct, should employee suspensions be paid or unpaid?

When employees are accused of serious misconduct, you probably don't want them in the workplace while you conduct an investigation. But a quick-trigger firing (or suspension without pay) could trigger a lawsuit for retaliation or discrimination.

For that reason, if you're going to suspend an employee, it's typically best to do so with pay while you investigate the claim. You're not imposing discipline yet, so the employee should not be penalized until you make a decision on their fate.

Exceptions could apply, so check with your attorney when in doubt.

Recent case: Arthur, who is black, was hired as executive director of a legal services firm. Soon after, several subordinates complained to the nonprofit's board that Arthur's behavior created a hostile work environment.

The board launched an investigation...

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