When you're thinking about discharging a problem employee, consider running a criminal background check. In many cases, discovering a serious crime conviction can provide additional justification.

Just make sure to follow Pennsylvania's Criminal History Records Act, which requires that the conviction be related to the employee's suitability for the job. And treat all employees alike.

Recent case: Josephus Nyema, a Liberian-American, sued his employer for alleged national origin and race discrimination. His case was dismissed when the county showed it fired him because of his poor performance and a forgery conviction, not his race or national origin. (Nyema v. County of Mercer, No. 06-1120, 3rd Cir., 2006)  

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