In cases where you may be concerned about a lawsuit over firing an employee, consider instead a last-change agreement. Think of it as hitting the reset button. Both the employer and the employee have one last chance to save the relationship.
Theby keeping his job. The employer benefits because any eventual termination will be clean, untainted by earlier missteps.
Recent case: Vincent cleaned buses for SEPTA, the Philadelphia-area transit agency. He had a reasonable accommodation for high blood pressure and other medical problems, which required running the buses’ air conditioners when the outside temperature was above 90 degrees.
Vincent was fired for leaving work early one day when he wasn’t feeling well, failing to obey his supervisor’s order to move a bus. His union intervened and negotiated a last-chance agreement. SEPTA appears to have agreed because it was worried about a disability discrimination lawsuit.
The agreement stipulated that Vincent would be fired if he earned any discipline in the next two years. Seven months later, Vincent missed a maintenance item on a bus and was terminated.
He sued, alleging retaliation and disability discrimination.
The case was quickly dismissed because there was no evidence that SEPTA’s stated discharge reason was some sort of pretext for discrimination. Because he couldn’t show the reason he was fired under the last chance agreement was false, he had no case. (Mercer v. SEPTA, et al., No. 14-3338, 3rd Cir., 2015)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Firing after FMLA: Potentially legal but usually unwise
- Make sure post-firing documentation doesn't pile on extra reasons for termination
- Building case for firing employee is OK—If it's legitimate
- Arbitration covers claims for unpaid bonus and severance