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When an employee threatens litigation, take your time building the case against him.

Make sure you base your decision on solid facts. Double-check to see that there’s no way the employee can claim you singled him out for unfair or inequitable treatment.

Then rest easy, knowing that if you’re sued, you can counter the allegations with facts and get the case dismissed quickly.

Recent case: Phillip White, who is black, worked as an account management representative for Kodak. His job was to call on customers to sell products and services.

Although he was a longtime Kodak employee, his performance started to slip, and his supervisors became increasingly frustrated when White took long lunches and personal phone calls.

When White was told he needed to work his scheduled hours, he sent a long e-mail explaining that all his phone calls and long lunches were being spent helping his elderly mother with her medical problems. He said he hoped the company would be supportive of his work/life balance problems and vowed to make up any lost time.

Then he filed an EEOC discrimination complaint.

After several negative performance appraisals, White was told to shape up and meet his call objectives. He then went out on FMLA leave. In his absence, his supervisor went over White’s records and concluded he had falsified them to show calls he had never made. Kodak decided this was a firing offense. When White returned from leave, he got the news.

White sued, alleging discrimination.

But Kodak showed the court it had fired every employee who had falsified records. The court dismissed the case. (White v. Eastman Kodak, No. 06-CV-6493, WD NY, 2009)

Final note:
Patience is a virtue worth cultivating. Take your time and gather your facts.

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