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Fair investigation all that’s needed to support discharge

by on
in Firing,Human Resources

Employers don’t have to be absolutely right before disciplining an employee. They merely have to investigate first.

Recent case: Jenny was a nurse in an elder-care facility. She is Pente­­costal and has a cleft palate.

Two co-workers reported that they saw Jenny with her hands between an 80-year old male patient’s legs while the patient had his hands on her breast.

They suspected something wrong was going on. They pro­­vided statements to HR, noting that Jenny spent considerable time with the patient behind closed doors. Jenny denied she was abusing the patient and said he had grabbed her.

Still, based on the other employees’ statements, she was fired. She sued, alleging religious and disability discrimination.

Her case was tossed out. The court said the employer could rely on co-worker statements collected during an investigation. (Evance v. Trumann, No. 12-2654, 8th Cir., 2013)

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