"The importance of documentation" is an axiomatic, and almost trite, battle cry that human resource professionals constantly beat into the psyches of their supervisors - quite often to no avail. But what, really, is "documentation?" When do you do it? How do you do it? And, what, exactly, are you supposed to document? More importantly, have you ever conveyed this information to your supervisors?
Already, Penn State University has paid a heavy price (millions of dollars and lost football scholarships, not to mention damage to its reputation) for allegedly sweeping under the rug scandalous conduct of convicted sex offender and former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky. However, while Penn State's football team appears to have weathered the storm, the university's problems are far from over. In October, a jury awarded former assistant coach, Mike McQueary, $7.3 million for Penn State's mishandling of his report that he had witnessed Sandusky molesting a young boy in a locker room shower. Worse yet, on November 30th a judge tacked on another $5 million for McQueary's whistleblower retaliation claims, separate from the already huge jury verdict. This case holds some poignant lessons for employers who may be faced with news of serious misconduct by any of their employees, whether it be sex harassment, unlawful discrimination, or criminal activity.