It happens all the time: A manager decides to take a chance by hiring a marginally qualified applicant. Then, days later—as the new employee struggles—it becomes clear she can’t do the job.
The employer has little choice but to terminate. But then the fired employee feels she has little choice but to sue for some form of discrimination.
Sometimes those cases are dismissed, but only after the organization has spent time and money to defend its actions.
The best way to avoid those lawsuits: Don’t count on “gut feeling” or interview skills. Run the applicant through job-specific tests. But make sure you run all applicants through the same tests.
Recent case: After only a few days on the job, Louise Doverspike was terminated from her parts inspector position because she couldn’t keep up the pace expected of employees.
She sued, alleging several forms of discrimination. Example: She claimed she was fired because she moved slowly, something she blamed on a thyroid condition and her generally large size.
The court dismissed her case, saying it didn’t make sense for the same company to hire her and then fire her days later for discriminatory reasons. (Doverspike v. International Ordinance Technologies, No. 09-CV-00473, WD NY, 2010)
Note: The employer might have been able to avoid this entire legal problem by administering a pre-employment test to determine if Doverspike could actually perform the job.
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