Have an adequate but not outstanding employee? Be careful if he engages in some form of protected activity. Suddenly deciding he’s not good enough may spark a retaliation lawsuit.
Recent case: Robert, a college graphic design instructor, received good but not great reviews. Then, while chairing a hiring committee, he complained about gender bias in the hiring process. Soon, following a negative review, he found his contract wouldn’t be renewed.
He sued, alleging retaliation. The college insisted he simply wasn’t a good enough instructor.
The court said a jury should decide whether that was true, based on past reviews, or whether he was a victim of retaliation. (Meyers v. California University of Pennsylvania, No. 2:12-cv-1258, WD PA, 2014)
Final note: Carefully build the case for termination when performance is an issue. Warn that you expect improvement and provide specifics.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Employees filed job-discrimination complaints with EEOC in near-record numbers last year
- Warn managers about dangers of commenting on worker's age
- When promotions favor similar employees, prepare to justify
- Remind supervisors: Constructive criticism is expected--not an excuse for employees to sue