Employers that can show they fired an employee for violating a company policy will generally win any subsequent lawsuit—if they can show they reasonably believed that’s what happened. It doesn’t matter if later it turns out the employer was wrong.
Recent case: Tomorrow Hudson claimed she was fired on account of her race after she complained about a hostile work environment. Her former employer said it fired her because it believed Hudson had recorded a conversation with. Company rules clearly prohibited taping conversations.
Hudson insisted she had merely taken good notes.
But the court said it was irrelevant whether she actually recorded the conversation or took notes. What mattered was the employer’s reasonable belief that she had done so, based on her almost verbatim retelling and her co-workers’ comments that she had threatened to record the conversation. (Hudson v. Blue Cross, No. 11-10096, 11th Cir., 2011)
- Track discrimination claims to head off post-Firing suits
- Thorough investigation is key to defending firing
- Is it my fault co-workers come to me to vent?
- Required: Investigating all harassment complaints Not required: Providing a perfect workplace
- It's OK to discipline employees for stonewalling HR investigations