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Evaluate work before switching to full time

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Some part-timers naturally want to move up to a full-time position. But when they apply and aren’t selected, they may claim they were turned down because of some form of discrimination—even if the real reason was that they weren’t performing well in their part-time roles.

Now a court has ruled that employers are justified in considering problems such as absenteeism when deciding whether to promote someone from part-time to full-time status.

Recent case: Peggy Pledger, who is black and a Jehovah’s Witness, worked at a skilled nursing facility. She originally applied for a part-time position and was hired. She later claimed she really wanted to work full time and tried to apply for every position that opened up.

Meanwhile, Pledger frequently demanded restrictions on her hours. For example, she told management which days and stations she wanted to work, and that she didn’t want to work more than 10 days per month. Later, she told her supervisor that she couldn’t work on Tuesday evenings because she had to go to religious services. Plus, she couldn’t work on Saturdays.

Not surprising, Pledger’s schedule was tough to manage. In fact, she fell below part-time status and lost her benefits because it became impossible to provide her with the hours needed within her many restrictions. Based on this scheduling problem, the nursing facility concluded Pledger shouldn’t be hired full time.

She sued, charging religious and other discrimination because she hadn’t been offered full-time work.

The court tossed out the case, noting that the facility had provided a legitimate reason for not choosing her. Simply put, Pledger’s demands as a part-time employee showed she wasn’t a good candidate for full-time work. The court said there was no evidence religion or race swayed the decision. (Pledger v. Mayview, No. 5:07-CV-235. ED NC, 2009)

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