Employees have tight deadlines for filing discrimination complaints. But the clock doesn’t start ticking on those deadlines until the employee knows he’s been fired.
If you’re terminating someone, be sure to make that clear!
Recent case: Information technology professional Nicholas Steen worked for Target stores for a decade. Toward the end of his tenure, Steen complained that he believed his boss wanted to get rid of older workers and segregated them into a single workgroup.
Then Steen was called into a meeting with an HR representative. He claimed he was offered a severance agreement and given a chance to make a counteroffer. HR would later say it had actually terminated Steen that day, but didn’t have any clear documentation to prove it.
Steen had a lawyer present a counteroffer and came to work the next day. His supervisor made assignments and Steen worked. Then Target rejected his counteroffer. Steen became anxious and depressed, requiring hospitalization.
When he was released, he learned he had no insurance because he had allegedly been terminated at the earlier meeting.
When Steen filed his EEOC complaint within 300 days from learning he had been terminated, Target tried to get the case dismissed. It argued that Steen had been terminated more than 300 days before he filed the complaint.
The court didn’t buy it, noting there was a dispute over exactly what had transpired at the meeting. The case now moves to trial. (Steen v. Target Corp., No. 09-2108, DC MN, 2011)