The next time you discipline an employee, consider how his conduct compares to others who broke a similar rule. Then detail the differences if the punishment varies. That way, you can later explain why two employees violating a similar rule deserved different punishments.
Recent case: When Brian broke up with his co-worker Gina, he allegedly threatened her so much that she sought a restraining order against him. He ignored it twice, including once in their employer’s parking lot. Brian was fired under a no-threats-or-violence rule.
He sued, alleging that Gina should also have been fired for bringing a gun to work.
The court dismissed Brian’s lawsuit after learning that Gina brought the gun out of fear for her life, not to engage in violence. The court reasoned the two employees weren’t similarly situated and could be punished differently. (Bond v. City of Bethlehem, No. 11-4291, 3rd Cir., 2012)
- Problems surface during FMLA leave? Fire away!
- Employees criticizing the firm? Where to draw the line
- Applicant suing for failure-to-hire? Make sure she really did apply for the job
- Note time, circumstances of firing decision
- Any stereotypes of workers--even positive ones--can spark discrimination lawsuits