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Discipline based on customer complaints? Get them in writing

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Sometimes, you may want to discipline or discharge an employee because of customer complaints.

Get those complaints in writing. According to a recent 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision, you may be able to use the letters as evidence that proves you sincerely fired the employee based on the complaints.

Recent case:
Sharon Kremer was fired from her job at a women’s shelter without being given the reason. She sued, charging age discrimination.

But the court allowed the shelter to introduce clients’ written complaints to explain why it fired Kremer. Ordinarily, such letters would be hearsay, but the court concluded they weren’t used to prove the customer complaints were true, just that the shelter had relied on the complaints. Employers don’t have to prove their reasons were true, only that they were sincere. (Kremer v. A Woman’s Place, No. 07-3261, 3rd Cir., 2009)

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