Some employees will permanently perform and behave better if they believe their jobs are at stake. But for others, the improvement is only temporary.
That’s why it is important to track performance and behavior over time. You can still use the earlier problems as partial justification for termination.
Recent case: Carol had a propensity to inappropriate outbursts. She was placed on a performance improvement plan and did improve—temporarily. Then she backslid, asking her supervisor whether she had “stopped taking” her medication.
She was fired and sued, alleging age discrimination. Carol’s employer said she was fired for years of poor behavior, including insubordination before and after being warned to improve.
The court dismissed the case, concluding the employer was free to use old and new incidents to support the decision. (Rubinow v. BIP, No. 11-2879, 2nd Cir., 2012)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Look for firing trends that could signal bias
- Even if managers go rogue, you can defend terminations by conducting independent review
- Require everyone to report harassment—you'll be justified firing those who don't
- 'Offering' chance to quit may still be constructive discharge