When it comes to discharging employees for alleged dishonesty, here’s some sound advice for managers and supervisors: Don’t discuss why the employee was terminated with anyone who doesn’t need to know. Keep the information private to avoid a possible defamation lawsuit.
Recent case: Susan Christian and her husband both worked for Wal-Mart. The company terminated her husband. Naturally, Christian was unhappy and she was going to participate in her husband’s age discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
Then the chain fired Christian for allegedly helping her daughter return to the store a pair of children’s shoes that she had not purchased at Wal-Mart. The company said that was theft.
Soon, Christian found herself answering former co-workers’ questions about why she was fired. Several wanted to know what Christian “had stolen.”
Christian sued Wal-Mart, alleging she had been fired for supporting her husband’s lawsuit. She added on a defamation claim. She alleged supervisors had told her former co-workers she had been fired for theft.
The court said Christian should get a trial on both issues. (Christian v. Wal-Mart, No. 07-14482, ED MI, 2009)
Advice: Don’t risk a lawsuit. Enforce a standard policy of “no comment” on all . Under state law, falsely accusing someone of theft is “defamation per se.” That means that if a jury believes Christian was falsely called a thief, she doesn’t have to prove the defamation harmed her reputation. The jury simply decides what the damages will be.
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/9062/memo-to-managers-theres-no-reason-to-discuss-why-employee-was-terminated "
- Beware firing for 'spreading rumors' about bias
- Going to the dogs? 6 rules for wags at work
- Remind managers: Even unconventional female-on-male harassment can be illegal
- Follow up with harassed employee to check for retaliation--and prevent future lawsuits
- Under what circumstances can an employee challenge a termination?