Discharging an employee is stressful to everyone concerned. It can be doubly stressful if the employee held a publicly visible position. Local reporters are likely to call asking for information about why the organization fired the employee.
Handling those calls poorly can spell legal trouble. A no-comment policy may be the best way to go.
If you suspect litigation on the horizon, save the he-said/she-said for the courtroom proceedings—don’t be tempted to try the case in the court of public opinion. Going too far may mean defamation charges. An added worry: If your job description doesn’t include talking to reporters, your loose lips may even mean personal liability if it turns out accusations against the employee were false.
Recent case: Fred Paffhausen was a library director, working under an employment contract. He lost his job after the library board chair persuaded the full board that Paffhausen’s contract should be terminated for cause.
Paffhausen sued, alleging . Testimony in fact revealed that the former library director had an unconventional way of dealing with critics. According to one account, he once picked up a bullet he kept in a dish on his desk and told a reporter that the bullet had the reporter’s “name on it.”
Naturally, when word got out that Paffhausen had been fired, reporters called. After talking to the chair, numerous articles about his alleged behavior appeared in the local paper. The chair, who admitted her job did not include talking to the press about former employees, was a possible source of the information.
Paffhausen sued the board chair for defamation. The court refused to dismiss his suit, reasoning that if Paffhausen can prove the chair wasn’t authorized to talk to the media and told untruths, she could be personally liable. (Paffhausen v. Bay County Library System, No. 06-13324, ED MI, 2008)
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/4939/no-comment-is-best-response-when-reporters-call-about-a-firing "
- Same-sex marriage: Know the impact on policies, benefits
- Obama signs business 1099 reporting repeal
- Don't leave yourself open to retaliation claims: Enforce work rules equitably for all employees
- Think twice before firing workers' comp applicant
- When employee files lawsuit after lawsuit, it's time to ask court to stop new ones