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Terminations: Always have a second witness to the entire meeting

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in Centerpiece,Firing,Human Resources

When it comes to bringing legal claims, employees feel emboldened when they can paint you into a “my word against yours” corner. But they don’t feel as comfortable—and likely won’t bring a lawsuit—when they’re facing a case of their word against two representatives from management.

That’s why it’s best to make sure you have at least two people from the executive or management team—including one from HR—to sit in on any termination meeting.

Recent case: Kathryn Quinn took frequent intermittent FMLA leave from her job when a back condition flared up. In one case, supervisors questioned her medical excuse. When Quinn re­­turned from leave, she was called into a meeting with two managers. She was told she was being fired for falsifying a medical note.

Then one of the managers left the room. Quinn alleges that the remaining manager told Quinn the termination “really wasn’t [because of] the doctor’s note. It was the FMLA.”

Quinn sued. The court sent her case to a jury based on the alleged statement. The jury will have to decide who is telling the truth. (Quinn v. Mercy Fitz­­gerald Hospital, No. 09-4327, ED PA, 2011)

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