Some managers worry needlessly that they will be sued for discrimination if they fire an employee—especially one who acts as though she has a chip on her shoulder.
But as long as an internal investigation finds that the employee hasn’t been discriminated against because of a protected characteristic, you likely have little to worry about.
Recent case: Inna Golod, Russian born and of Jewish descent, worked for Bank of America as a software engineer. She was passed over for several promotions before being fired.
Golod sued, claiming the reason was her religion and national origin.
But she could point to no specifics to back up her allegations. That killed her case fast. (Golod v. Bank of America, No. 09-2907, 3rd Cir., 2010)
Final note: You can’t prevent every frivolous lawsuit. Some employees find an attorney willing to take the case. Others file their own lawsuits without legal assistance. Don’t let the fear of litigation be a big factor in an otherwise reasonable employment decision.
Remember, former employees and their attorneys may be looking for a quick settlement. One possibility you may want to discuss with your attorneys before discharging an employee is whether it would be worth offering a modest severance payment in exchange for a release of all liability.