Here’s something to keep in mind when you find yourself having to terminate an employee who may later sue for race or other discrimination. Past positive performance evaluations and promotions can be used as solid evidence you didn’t discriminate against the employee.
Just be sure you can document a solid reason for firing the employee.
Recent case: Soberina Traywick, who is black, started working for First Citizens Bank & Trust in 1999 and progressed through the ranks. She received regular promotions and merit increases, even as she filed several discrimination and harassment complaints.
All that changed when internal investigators got a complaint from a client about an unauthorized charitable donation. Traywick made the deduction during the bank’s annual Raleigh Chamber of Commerce charity drive, in which bank employees call customers and ask them to donate.
During the investigation, the bank became suspicious about another customer’s loan documents. A handwriting expert examined the documents and concluded Traywick had forged the customer’s signature. The bank fired her.
Traywick sued, alleging race discrimination. But the court tossed out the case after reviewing her performance record. It was clear the bank considered her an excellent employee who received regular promotions. That evidence helped show that the bank’s decision to fire Traywick was based solely on its legitimate investigation of alleged wrongdoing. (Traywick v. First Citizens Bank & Trust, No. 5:07-CV-198, ED NC, 2008)
- Enough is enough: How many interviews are too many?
- When firing, choose words carefully, stick to performance
- Don't grant 'FMLA leave' if you're not covered
- OK to reject applicant who volunteers that disability can't be accommodated
- When manager slides from difficult to impossible, good documentation supports reason for firing