Make sure two representatives are present during termination meetings

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Nothing spurs a lawsuit like a discharge, and such cases often boil down to who said what, and when. That’s why it’s wise to have at least two management-level representatives present at all termination meetings—perhaps one supervisor and one HR rep. If the termination leads to litigation, the two people can testify about what happened.

Recent case: Jolonda Roberts lost her job two days after finding out she was pregnant. Roberts had been tardy often during the three months she worked for a health clinic. She received many warnings, including one final notice stating that if she was tardy again, she would be terminated.

Roberts found out she was pregnant on Dec. 10 and says she told her supervisor right away. The boss allegedly asked Roberts whether she planned to “keep it.” Roberts was tardy again on Dec. 11. On Dec. 12, the supervisor called Roberts into a meeting where Roberts claimed the supervisor said she was being terminated “because of everything,” and that with “all the problems” Roberts might be having soon, the termination was “probably the best decision.”

She sued, claiming she had been discriminated against because of her pregnancy.

The supervisor testified that she didn’t know about Robert’s pregnancy and simply fired Roberts for tardiness. But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a trial, saying a jury should decide who is telling the truth. (Roberts v. Park Nicollet Health Services, No. 07-1738, 8th Cir., 2008)

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