If you’re ready to fire an employee because of a co-worker’s or customer’s complaint, think twice if the complaint is recanted. Otherwise, the fired employee may sue, claiming that your stated discharge reason was false and merely an excuse to terminate.
Recent case: Scott was fired after a co-worker complained about him to his supervisors. Unknown to Scott, the co-worker recanted her story before Scott was terminated.
Scott sued, alleging he had really been fired to save money on benefits.
When he discovered that the co-worker took back the complaint, he got powerful evidence for his lawsuit. The court said he should have a chance to argue that he had been fired to cut off his benefits, not because of the complaint. (Teutscher v. Riverside Sheriff’s Association, et al., No. 10-56827, 9th Cir., 2012)