Government workers have more protections than other employees when it comes to termination. For example, if a public employee is falsely charged with some form of misconduct, she may have a lawsuit.
That’s one reason to be careful when announcing a termination. By all means, resist the temptation to make an example out of the fired employee.
Recent case: Janet, who was a community coordinator for the Rochester Public Schools, set her own working hours. When she took a second job with the same school district teaching summer school, rumors spread that she was essentially “double dipping,” being paid for two jobs while working just one.
The school district didn’t renew Janet’s coordinator position and she sued, alleging that her constitutional rights had been violated because the rumors hurt her reputation.
But it turned out that the administration had merely announced that she was taking a teaching job and leaving the coordinator position. It had not done anything to spread rumors about Janet. Her lawsuit was dismissed. (Szajner v. Rochester Public Schools, et al., No. 13-2417, DC MN, 2015)
Final note: At trial, it came out that the district hadn’t paid Janet for some of the hours she put in while working her two jobs. She had kept careful records of how she spent her time. The court did order the district to rectify that mistake.
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