Those of you who know me are acutely (painfully?) aware that I love The University of Tennessee and all things Big Orange. That especially (unfortunately?) includes the football team.
The rash of arrests, missteps, mishaps, and any other word you care to associate with the more-than-I-care-to-count off-field happenings for the team has been and remains embarrassing. The latest arrest came at a time when the football program did not need any more of this kind of publicity--not that it ever needs ANY publicity like this. If you've been following these reports, you know that reporters and writers are hammering home the number of players and incidents involved in such a short period. Those same articles are also mentioning the level of discipline the players are receiving--and the perception that the severity of the punishment depends not on the act, but on the player's spot on the depth chart.
What, you might ask, does this have to do with you? It is illustrative of the importance of consistently enforcing your policies. It is an opportunity for you to see, on a magnified scale, what happens when the perception develops that the rules in the workplace are not being enforced uniformly and fairly.
Can you stop this speculation? Probably not, at least not short of opening your personnel and investigative files for all to see, and even then you'll still have your doubters. An important lesson, though, to take away from this rash of publicity is that there may come a time when you have to defend your decision to differentiate the type of punishment meted out in situations that on the surface appear to be similar. So document any reasons for deviating from the policy and/or precedents, and then be thankful that your decisions don't end up the fodder for someone's blog entry!