Once you’ve made the tough decision to terminate an employee, stick to it. If you let the employee talk you into reconsidering, you may end up with a lawsuit over whether a contract had been created.
Recent case: Aaron Binkley was fired for falsifying time sheets at an Entergy Operations nuclear facility. Apparently, he was in the habit of filling out time sheets at the beginning of a pay period and then making adjustments later if he didn’t work the listed hours.
At his termination meeting, someone from HR told him that he might be allowed a chance to “tell his side”—and perhaps get his job back. He appealed to agroup, which recommended reversal. But Entergy ultimately refused, reasoning that he never should have been offered an internal appeal because employees terminated for unethical behavior weren’t eligible.
Binkley sued, alleging he had been promised that if he could persuade the management group that he deserved his job back, the company would rehire him.
A federal appeals court dismissed the case, ruling that there was no contractual agreement in this case. (Binkley v. Entergy Operations, No. 09-2567, 8th Cir., 2010)
Final note: The dismissal came only after Entergy had spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on litigation, including defending against Binkley’s appeal after the company won the first round in the trial court.
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