A former public works department employee has filed sex discrimination charges against the borough of Roselle—and now she’s added a breach-of-contract lawsuit that offers lessons for HR professionals.
In her first complaint, Kheshea Jones claims she was hired with the understanding she would be a substitute truck driver, moving into a permanent position after a 90-day probationary period.
She claims her experience was quite different. She was assigned to clean bathrooms and deliver food while male co-workers were filling potholes and painting curbs. Jones says she never drove, despite holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Meanwhile, she says, other employees without CDLs drove borough trucks.
She also claims a male co-worker exposed himself to her while she was cleaning a bathroom.
Jones says she was fired after she filed her discrimination suit against the borough. So she sued Roselle again, this time alleging wrongful firing, breach of contract, libel, harassment and a hostile work environment. The suit seeks back pay and damages.
Note: This case points out the power of perception when it comes to employment law. Jones alleges a “breach of contract.” Apparently, she interpreted whatever assurances borough officials gave her as a contract.
Advice: Always avoid saying or writing anything an employee might interpret as a contractual promise. Your employees are at-will employees who can be terminated for any reason or no reason—unless someone offers them a contract, either in writing or verbally. Train supervisors not to promise employees they will have a job at any point in the future.
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