It's not impossible to discipline employees who complain of discrimination. They're not untouchable. Just make sure you can show that the discipline flows from objective performance factors, not retaliation.
Still, in such risky situations, ensure that higher-ups scrutinize the reasons for the discipline. Always undertake an independent review; don't take the decision maker's word at face value.
Finally, make sure the independent review is substantive and meaningful. Courts will look down on reviews that simply look like a rubber stamp. So if you don't possess the specialized knowledge or technical background to understand the reasons for the disciplinary measures, arrange for someone with that knowledge to conduct the review.
Recent case: Godofredo Hernandez, a 10-year technician, complained to HR on behalf of a co-worker who said she was sexually harassed by Hernandez's supervisor. HR investigated and found no harassment.
A month later, the company terminated Hernandez for making various technical mistakes. The proof? Hernandez's supervisor prepared a list of Hernandez's mistakes. An HR director and another supervisor reviewed the list and approved the firing. Hernandez sued for retaliatory discharge, claiming the harassment complaint sparked the heightened scrutiny of his work.
At trial, the company argued that retaliation was impossible because two others reviewed the supervisor's reasons for firing. But the appeals court rejected the company's argument, saying that retaliation could have occurred because those "reviews" were too superficial to be meaningful.
The other manager and HR conducted only a cursory review of the list. Instead, a qualified technician should have considered Hernandez's performance and advised HR whether those mistakes justified termination. (Hernandez v. Spacelabs Medical Inc., No. 02-35615, 9th Cir., 2003)
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/453/hr-carefully-review-firing-plans-courts-will-frown-on-rubber-stamp "
- Defying expectations: Why failing to live up to stereotypes won't make worker's suit a winner
- Courts rule Schwarzenegger's state furloughs were improper
- How responsible is a parent company for an action filed against a subsidiary company?
- States aren't immune from ADA lawsuits, high court says
- Firing for theft? Well-founded suspicion enough to go on