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Make solid case for axing good but toxic worker

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Sometimes, an employee is so disruptive that it doesn’t matter how well she is performing her job. Constant arguments, tension and other elements of a personality conflict can poison the work environment and drag down other employees’ performance. She’s got to go!

If this is the situation, you can terminate the employee for being disruptive. Just make sure you can cite clear examples of the divisive conduct.

Recent case: Evelyn Halik, who is of Filipino descent, began work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She almost immediately began having conflicts with co-workers over rules, breaks, overtime and other work issues. Halik was, in short, a disruptive employee.

But she was also a good performer, doing her job duties quite well. In fact, the supervisor with whom she had most of her problems rated her performance very high.

Still, the supervisor recommended Halik’s termination at the end of her probationary term, mainly because of the workplace disruption she caused.

Halik sued for national-origin discrimination, claiming her supervisor was out to get her because she is Filipino. She pointed out that her work performance was excellent and argued that this must mean her supervisor had discriminatory reasons for urging her termination.

The court didn’t see it that way. It said it was reasonable for an employer to terminate a new employee—even if she had been doing her job well—if she also was a disruptive force. Homeland Security had provided many examples of disruptive behavior to justify its decision. (Halik v. Chertoff, No. 07-841, CD CA, 2009) 

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