It goes without saying that you should enforce your rules fairly. That’s why you must track every disciplinary action and make a clear record of why each employee earned his discipline.
Later, when one of those employees claims the real reason he was fired was due to age, sex or some other protected classification, you can show that wasn’t the case.
Recent case: Richard Roeben was 67 when he was hired as the director of purchasing for a hotel. His job required him to negotiate for hotel supplies such as linens, bathroom products and food items. He also handled incoming shipments and had access to an off-site inventory warehouse.
Roeben did a good job for several years. Then got a call from a woman who said her company had evicted Roeben from his home and in the process had discovered a large amount of items she believed belonged to the hotel because they included the hotel logo. Security investigated and found towels, bathroom products, a vacuum cleaner and various other products that looked like they belonged to the hotel.
The hotel fired Roeben for unauthorized possession of hotel property. He sued, alleging he had really been fired because of his age.
But the hotel pulled out its disciplinary records and showed the court that it had also fired much younger employees for other types of theft. For example, a 23-year-old valet was terminated for validating his own parking stub. A 20-year-old housekeeper was fired for taking two beers from the hotel bar.
That showed the court that Roeben had not been fired because of his age. The court ruled in the hotel’s favor. (Roeben v. BG Excelsior, No. 08-12260, 8th Cir., 2008)
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