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Watch out when firing for breaking unwritten rule

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

Before you approve a termination based on an employee’s apparent violation of an unwritten rule, decide whether the reason can stand up to scrutiny.

Recent case: Joann Lazzaro had worked for Rite Aid drug stores for 36 years when a new, younger manager arrived on the scene. He apparently told her he heard she was ready to retire.

Then Lazzaro was caught using family members to help her count inventory. Rite Aid fired her for allowing unpaid labor, although there was no written rule against the practice.

Lazzaro filed an age discrimination complaint with the EEOC—and then Rite Aid fired four other older managers for the same offense.

The court ordered a trial so a jury can determine whether Rite Aid used the unwritten rule as a pretext to purge its stores of older managers. (Lazzaro v. Rite Aid, No. 09-CV-1140, WD PA, 2010)

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