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Tragic personal history doesn’t excuse misbehavior

by on
in Firing,Human Resources

If you have a no-violence rule, you don’t have to alter the punishment based on the employee’s personal history, no matter how tragic.

Recent case: Cyriaque, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, sought asylum after being tortured in his native country of Congo. He settled in the United States and sent his earnings to his family in Africa.

Cyriaque was fired after punching a co-worker in the back during an argument. He applied for unemployment compensation and didn’t get the benefits. He appealed, arguing that a reasonable person in his position would have struck back on account of his history.

The court disagreed and dismissed the appeal. It said employers don’t have to tolerate violence, which clearly constitutes misconduct that makes an employee ineligible for benefits. (Itoua v. Water Heater Innovations, No. A11-1486, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2012)

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