You never know which terminated employee will sue—or how long he might wait to do so. That’s why it’s important to document everything leading up to the termination. Then make it your policy to retain firing-related documents indefinitely.
Recent case: Janitor Ralph McCullough got into an argument over his performance. At a meeting with several other employees of the Trenton school system, he allegedly said that all the stress might make him violent.
The school system promptly fired him and took statements from everyone who heard McCullough’s outbursts.
Seven years later, he filed a discrimination lawsuit.
The court quickly dismissed McCullough’s case after the school system produced solid evidence—the co-worker statements—that he had been fired for making threats. (McCullough v. Trenton Board of Education, No. 07-5341, DC NJ, 2010)
- Independent investigation key to clean terminations
- Seek legal assistance when negotiating contract terms with union
- Good news: The clock eventually runs out on negligent hiring after you've fired worker
- Catch reverse discrimination before it becomes federal case
- HR: Carefully review firing plans; courts will frown on 'rubber stamp'