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Even stupid remark won’t sink legitimate discharge case

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

Supervisors sometimes say incredibly dumb things. But those remarks won’t necessarily create liability—if you have carefully documented employee performance.

Recent case: Robert Dickerson worked for a college as a part-time janitor. He has mild mental retardation. He also has a long history of poor performance. He filed an EEOC complaint about discrimination following several poor evaluations.

Then he asked his supervisor what he could do to be hired full time. The supervisor offered advice: Don’t sue your employer.

Later, Dickerson was fired for poor performance. He sued, alleging the supervisor’s comment was clear evidence of retaliation.

The court said the remark was “imprudent” but that it was still clear Dickerson was terminated for poor performance. (Dickerson v. Board of Trustees, No. 10-3381, 7th Cir., 2011)

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