Ohio employees who are discharged for just cause aren’t entitled to unemployment compensation payments. But Ohio courts frequently hesitate to cut off unemployment benefits for one-time conduct that may be outrageous—as long as the employee doesn’t have a history of past disciplinary problems and the employer has a progressive discipline program it didn’t use.
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Q. Our state agency’s board is considering terminating a legal secretary who seems to have been a supporter of one of our attorneys who was discharged for both performance problems and being disloyal to our board. We understand that, under the patronage dismissal doctrine, we can terminate employees who supported the political opponent of our agency’s elective head. Can the board likewise discharge the legal secretary for her seeming disloyalty?
Q. We have an employee who does not work very hard, and her productivity is only mediocre. If we terminate her, will she be able to collect unemployment compensation?
According to the EEOC, Pittsburgh-based Lifecare Hospital showed a remarkable lack of compassion when it fired business manager Diana Altieri-Hand, who had cancer at the time. Saner heads prevailed once hospital officials contemplated the prospect of a hospital justifying to a jury why it mistreated a cancer patient.
Since employees get attorneys’ fees when a court determines employers violated their rights, it seems reasonable that employers should get attorneys’ fees when they have to waste time and money on frivolous litigation. It turns out some courts are beginning to entertain such requests.
Q. After repeatedly warning an employee about her poor performance, we recently terminated her. At the termination meeting, she complained for the first time that she felt she’d been held to higher standards based on her gender. She has now filed for unemployment benefits. While we don’t think she’s entitled to the benefits, we wonder whether it makes sense to fight her claim. What do you think?
Here’s a good way to avoid litigation: Warn all your supervisors and managers that bad-mouthing an employee’s military service can spell trouble. That’s because any disciplinary action following such talk could be viewed as evidence military service was a factor in the decision.
You may have noticed more people than usual lurking outside your executive’s door. That’s because economic fears are prompting more employees to eavesdrop and gossip about what might happen next at their workplaces...
If you develop a reasonable retention policy and follow through by regularly deleting information you don’t need, chances are an employee later won’t be able to say you intentionally interfered with the ability to present a legal case ...
If you’ve ever been caught up in an employment lawsuit, chances are you couldn’t wait for it to be over. Yet every case presents a valuable opportunity to prevent future problems and improve HR effectiveness by conducting an “autopsy” of the claim.