When it comes to discharging an employee, the best policy may be to bide your time and carefully document her deficiencies. Unless there is a compelling reason to act immediately, be patient and build your case with solid, verifiable criticism.
Recent case: Esselona Larson worked as an elementary school principal. She was informed that her contract would not be renewed shortly after she had suggested that the music teachers include a Christian song in the school’s holiday music program.
Because of the timing, Larson suspected she essentially had been fired because she was a Christian and had suggested performing a religious song.
But the school district came to court armed with Larson’s disciplinary history. It showed that the song suggestion was just the culmination of a long-running dispute Larson had with a Jewish teacher under her supervision. That teacher had complained that Larson once gave a Hitler salute at a meeting. Their disputes went back several years.
The school district said it had fired Larson for her poor skills, and that suggesting the Christian song was just the last straw in her continued efforts to harass the Jewish teacher because of that teacher’s religion.
The court dismissed the case. (Larson v. Portage Township, No. 07-3482, 7th Cir., 2008)
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