Even after an employee who has participated in employment lawsuits or complaints is discharged for entirely legitimate reasons, he may later sue if he isn’t rehired. Then he’ll try to argue that his prior protected activity was the reason he wasn’t rehired.
To avoid such lawsuits, make sure the hiring manager knows little or nothing about those prior activities.
Recent case: Alvin lost his job with the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia following a reorganization.
Later, he was brought back as a temporary worker and then participated in a group discrimination complaint, acting as the group’s spokesperson.
Over the next year, Alvin applied for a number of open permanent positions, but wasn’t picked for any of them.
He sued, alleging that the decision not to rehire him was retaliation for his previous role as spokesperson for other workers at the mint.
The court looked carefully at each position he applied for, especially whether the person responsible for hiring knew about Alvin’s prior activities. None had any direct involvement or deep knowledge. That was enough to get the case dismissed despite the close timing of Alvin’s activities and his job applications. (Gillyard v. Geithner, No. 12-125, ED PA, 2015)
Final note: Too small an organization to build a virtual wall around hiring managers? Then make sure that you have plenty of justification for each hire. Show why you hired the best qualified applicant, based on as much objective information as possible.
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