A female temporary worker on a long-term assignment for NJ-based Philips Lighting Co. won a $164,850 verdict for gender discrimination against the company. The woman, who worked in the warehouse of the company’s Mountaintop, PA, plant, claimed the company offered full-time positions only to male temps. She asked about full-time employment several times and was told she was next in line. Instead, she was fired.
Philips claimed the woman was fired, along with several other temps, because of frequent absences and . The plaintiff testified, however, that she was told she was being let go because of declining business. Despite showing the woman was frequently absent, the company lost its case partly because of its change in rationale.
“Neither performance nor attendance were mentioned when Plaintiff was told she was being terminated because of a work slowdown,” the judge ruled. The court also noted that during that year, Philips hired 12 full-time workers, only one of whom was female.
Advice: Before firing any employee, managers should have clear, nondiscriminatory reasons—backed by documentation—in the employee’s file. And don’t hedge: Clearly communicate the reasons for dismissal to the employee.
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