Document why termination was justified when employee can’t handle promotion duties

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Sometimes, employees who do great at one job lay an egg when promoted up the org chart. When that happens, and you find you have to terminate the employee, be sure to document exactly what went wrong.

Otherwise, the employee may sue, claiming some sort of discrimination—and point to his earlier stellar performance as evidence he was set up to fail.

Recent case: David Dukes, who is black, worked as a temp and was assigned to a position with Fabcon. He did well and earned praise for his work. Then seasonal layoffs meant staff reductions, and the company pulled Dukes from the assignment.

When positions opened up again, the temp agency reassigned Dukes to Fabcon. This time, he received an assignment requiring “good people and leadership skills”—requirements his first assignment didn’t include.

Fabcon removed Dukes from the assignment, complaining that he “has not been putting forth as much effort as he did last year and he has alienated himself with most of the workers to the point of being counterproductive.”

Dukes sued, alleging race discrimination. He said his second boss was biased against blacks and pointed to his prior good performance as proof.

But the court tossed out his case, reasoning that the new assignment required additional skills Dukes didn’t have. It didn’t matter that he had done well the year before because that job required different skills. (Dukes v. Specialty Staff, et al., No. 07-2587, DC MN, 2008)

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