Congratulations! You’ve settled a case. Now make sure the same employee doesn’t sue you again.
Remind managers and supervisors to treat the employee exactly like they treat all other employees in the same position. Hold him to the same standards. Track his progress along with everyone else’s. If you didn’t have a good program for doing that before the first lawsuit, set one up.
Take regular stock of discipline and promotions processes to make sure any old habits are dead—and that new ones promote equality. Then rest easy. If you do have to discipline the employee, you’ll know you now have a fair and unbiased process.
Recent case: Cecil Watson worked for the U.S. Postal Service and filed an EEOC lawsuit when he was denied a promotion into. The allegation was racial discrimination. The EEOC agreed with Watson, and the post office agreed to promote him and give him back pay.
At first, all went well. Then Watson’s bosses began to question his ability to manage his employees; he had refused to follow several directives involving overtime and vacation time tracking.
The last straw came when a subordinate called Watson at home to report that a mail container had a white powder at the bottom. Watson had trained his employees on how to deal with possible hazardous substances and knew the procedures required isolating the material and calling authorities. Instead, he instructed the subordinate to put on gloves and scoop up some of the powder into a cup, add water and stir to see whether it foamed like detergent. (It didn’t.) Watson was fired for placing his subordinate in possible danger.
He sued, alleging retaliation for his previous lawsuit. The court disagreed and dismissed his case. (Watson v. Potter, No. 07-C-413, ND IL, 2009)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- 10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review
- Where legal trouble lurks: Even unwritten rules must be enforced fairly and consistently
- After employee files internal complaint, beware anything that might look like retaliation
- Employee refusing to sign review? Don't let that stop your discipline
- FLSA doesn't cover claims for distress, punitive damages