I am sure that a lot employers lost productive work time yesterday with the Comey hearing. I must admit that I did not watch the Comey testimony yesterday. I actually had a busy day and was afraid of getting sucked down the rabbit hole. I do intend to catch up on it. If you are so inclined, the New York Times has the full video and a transcript of the testimony.
I did read the seven page statement Comey released in anticipation of his testimony. That seven page document detailed the meetings Comey had with President Trump and most shockingly, the statement that he felt compelled to start notes of the meeting on a laptop in his car immediately after leaving the White House.
Although the notes themselves are not conclusive proof, they could go along way in proving his claims. Some may say that Comey was being needlessly paranoid, however, he did exactly what I wish all managers would do. He saw an issue and he documented that issue.
Too often, whether I am simply being asked to give advice or I am trying to defend a lawsuit, I hear from managers that the employee was a terrible employee who had been spoken to on multiple occasions. However, there is no documentation that corroborates that.
I do understand that some discipline and counseling will be verbal, but managers should still take notes of such meetings. If for no other reason than when you are sitting down to do more formal discipline, you will be aware of what was discussed and on how many previous occasions.
The second thing that Comey did that managers should do is share the documentation. He wrote that he showed his notes to senior FBI officials as soon as he wrote them. This makes it harder to argue that the notes were not contemporaneously made.
Once counseling or discipline is documented, the manager should forward that documentation to HR to be placed in the employee’s file. This will go a long way to defending the company and employer in any later litigation.