When employees are fired for, they may be quick to point to unequal treatment, saying other workers kept their jobs but were absent more often.
One way to avoid such claims is to install a point system to punish absenteeism, terminating employees who accumulate too many points. Such a system negates the need to track the total number of hours of work an employee misses, since the employer is counting points rather than time.
Recent case: Disney employee Kendall Johnson was terminated after he accumulated “unsatisfactory” attendance ratings for three months of a 12-month period.
Employees were rated monthly for attendance and rated unsatisfactory in any month in which they violated the attendance policy by being absent or tardy. It didn’t matter how many times in a month the employee violated the policy.
Johnson, who is black, sued. He claimed that a Hispanic female missed more total hours than he did before she was fired. The court said it didn’t matter, noting that the Hispanic female also had three “unsatisfactory” months before being terminated and was, therefore, treated the same. (Johnson v. Disney, No. 6:09-CV-1741, MD FL, 2010)
- Unsure about your accommodations obligations? Find out fast--or risk personal liability
- Choose: Create light-duty job or keep paying workers' comp
- Do you have specific rules for calling in sick? They may be contractual
- Consider uniform, ADEA-compliant severance and rights-waiver releases--even if age isn't factor
- Quick fix can help avoid harassment liability