If your workplace isn’t exactly the picture of diversity, the need to fire your only minority employee may worry you. Isn’t that just courting a lawsuit?
Maybe—but that’s no reason to retain a poor performer. As long as you can provide solid business reasons for the discharge, the employee’s status as the only member of a protected class won’t be enough to support a lawsuit.
Recent case: Edward, one of just two black nurses at a hospital, was discharged when drugs went missing. He sued, alleging that he must have been fired because of racism.
But the court said just being a member of a small minority wasn’t enough; he had to offer real evidence that the hospital engaged in discrimination when it fired him. (Mayes v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, No. S-12-1726, ED CA, 2013)
- Consistent policy, smart response get you off the hook for retaliation
- Disparate impact not enough to prove age discrimination
- Focus on concrete qualifications in hiring, not esoteric 'chemistry'
- Remind supervisors: Absolutely no comments about employee's pending EEOC complaint
- Don't take the rap for employee's after-hours harassment