When you must terminate an employee, resist the temptation to “throw the book” at him by dredging up every possible mistake. That can backfire. Instead, make sure your termination process is respectful, careful and deliberate.
An employer that seems reasonable almost always fares better in court.
Recent case: Dr. Subir Ray, who is of Indian descent, worked as a surgeon for a hospital. Like other physicians, Ray had to re-establish his credentials on a regular basis. Ray failed his reaccreditation, which essentially resulted in his termination because he was no longer allowed to perform surgery.
He sued, alleging that the credentialing process was biased and that white surgeons were treated better.
But the hospital described its process in detail. It testified that the panel of doctors who considered Ray’s case was representative of the hospital’s diverse, 800-member staff. It explained that the panel had refused to credential Ray because its review of his work uncovered serious medical errors.
But the hospital also conceded that, in one of the medical cases at issue, it agreed with Ray that he had done nothing wrong. That impressed the court and helped cement its opinion that the hospital acted fairly and deliberately rather than hastily. Absent any other evidence of discrimination, it dismissed Ray’s case. (Ray v. Pinnacle Health, No. 09-4508, 3rd Cir., 2010)
Final note: Remember, employers don’t have to be absolutely right when they discipline employees—just fair and honest.