Sometimes an employee who complains that his supervisor is biased is absolutely right. If it turns out that a worker’s accusation of discrimination is true, don’t hesitate to fire the supervisor and move on.
The employee who reported the harassment may sue anyway, but your quick and decisive action in terminating the supervisor will probably carry great weight with the court.
Recent case: Bruce Barton worked as a sales manager for a company that sells artificial knees, hips and other medical devices. He complained to HR that his supervisor was targeting older employees for harsh treatment and favored younger employees in training.
The stress Barton encountered during the resulting investigation led him to take. Eventually, the company concluded that the supervisor had indeed treated older workers poorly and concluded he should go. The day before Barton returned from leave, his supervisor was terminated.
Because there were changes afoot due to the sudden discharge, employees, including Barton, got new duties. Barton retired when he thought the stress was too great.
The he sued, alleging age discrimination and interference with his FMLA return rights.
The court tossed out his case. It reasoned that the company had acted reasonably when it terminated the supervisor, essentially fixing the problem. Plus, the new duties assigned to Barton after returning were simply a natural consequence of the termination and had nothing to do with his FMLA leave. He returned to the same job, but with altered duties. (Barton v. Zimmer, No, 10-2212, 7th Cir., 2011)
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