You may be worrying too much about firing an employee right after she files a discrimination complaint!
If you can easily show that you would have fired her regardless of her complaint (or if the firing was already in the works), a court is unlikely to connect her complaint with your decision.
And in Texas, timing alone isn’t enough to prove the firing was retaliation. Employees have to show more—such as a logical connection between the complaint and the termination.
Recent case: Miranda Montalvo was working as the jail administrator when a new sheriff was elected. He demoted Montalvo to a correctional officer and replaced her with a man.
Montalvo filed an EEOC sex discrimination complaint.
Shortly after, Montalvo was fired. The sheriff’s stated reason was that Montalvo had allegedly told other employees that she would not help some of her fellow officers if they needed backup.
In court, Montalvo argued that it was obvious she had been terminated in retaliation for filing the EEOC complaint.
The court concluded otherwise. It said timing alone is never enough to prove retaliation. Instead, the discharged employee has to show a connection between her complaint and the termination beyond coincidence. (Montalvo v. County of Refugio, No. 13-08-00003, Court of Appeals of Texas, 13th District, 2010)
Final note: If timing alone were enough, every employee facing discipline could file a complaint and become untouchable.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Firing worker during FMLA leave: possibly legal, but usually unwise
- Be patient if worker alleges minor harassment
- Break in employment may cut hostile environment liability
- Faced with allegations boss is biased, investigate ASAP and fire if necessary