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Spa manager’s personal style rubbed staff the wrong way

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in Discrimination and Harassment,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Lisa Cristia worked as a massage therapist and later as a department manager for Red Door Spa in Chicago. In 2003, Cristia received her first performance evaluation as a manager. Her supervisor noted that she needed to improve her professionalism in certain areas, including avoiding personal conversations with staff and keeping her personal feelings out of her decision-making.

A few months after her promotion, Cristia was diagnosed with cancer and took several FMLA leaves of absence to undergo treatment. After each leave, she returned to the same job and pay as before.

In her next performance evaluation, Cristia again was counseled about her professionalism, including discussing intimate details of her personal life with staff.

Several months later, Cristia held a birthday party. When a subordinate didn’t show up, Cristia called her at home to ask why. Another employee who came but left early received a phone message from Cristia calling the employee “rude, cruel and selfish.”

When the employees complained, Red Door fired Cristia for breaching the company’s rules of conduct, including using her position as a manager to coerce and harass employees. Cristia sued, alleging disability discrimination.

The court ruled in favor of Red Door, noting the company merely followed its written policies for termination for breaking the conduct rules. It said since Red Door had fully complied with the FMLA during Cristia’s illness, there was no discrimination.

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