Nothing will sink an employer’s case faster than a manager’s careless comment. That’s especially true if the organization has just fired someone considered to be a “troublemaker,” whom everyone was looking for an excuse to let go. Confessing that inconvenient truth is a sure path to liability.
Recent case: Eric Jones worked for the U.S. Postal Service until he was discharged for getting into an argument with his ex-girlfriend, who worked at the same post office. The Postal Service has a strict “hands-off at work” rule, and Jones was accused of instigating an argument that led to a pushing match.
Jones also had a long (and expensive) history of work injuries and claimed he was disabled.
The Postal Service reinstated him while his case went to arbitration, but he sued anyway. He alleged the original firing was discrimination based on his disability. He said firing him for the argument was just a cover for getting rid of a disabled employee.
To bolster his argument, Jones got a statement from a co-worker who had asked a manager why Jones had been fired. And what was the manager’s response? “He couldn’t do the job . . . this [incident with the ex-girlfriend] gave [us] … a chance to get rid” of Jones. The court said a jury could consider the statement as evidence that the employer knew it didn’t have a legal reason to fire Jones, but seized on a convenient rationale as soon as one presented itself. And that, said the court, “is the very definition of pretext.” (Jones v. Potter, No. 06-3845, 6th Cir., 2007)
Final note: In the end, the case was tossed out for technical reasons. But the fact remains, a careless statement can sink a case.
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/3221/instruct-supervisors-mums-the-word-on-discharge "
- Applicant filed for bankruptcy: Can you refuse to hire him?
- When employee complains about discrimination, be alert for signs bosses are retaliating
- Midweek terminations and the FLSA
- Lawsuit-free hiring: The 5 laws you need to know & 4 steps you need to take
- Are you a target for union organizing? 6 questions to ask