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New employee a dud? Give the early hook without heading to court

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

It wouldn’t make sense, right? Someone who harbors animosity against a protected class isn’t likely to hire someone he knows belongs to that protected class. If a manager picks a black man as his preferred candidate for an opening and offers the job, he probably isn’t a racist.

If that same manager finds out the new employee isn’t as qualified as he sounded or looked on his résumé, he should be the one to make the termination decision. Especially if the new employee shows early signs of poor performance, courts assume that he who hired wouldn’t fire because of bias.

Recent case: The regional chaplain of a hospice hired Ransey O’Daniel, who is black, as a chaplain. O’Daniel’s job was to counsel terminally ill patients on spiritual matters.

Almost immediately, O’Daniel had work problems. During training, he interrupted instructors in midsentence and sometimes arrived two hours late. His paperwork was disorganized and sloppy. When he started counseling patients, he scheduled them monthly rather than based on their needs, contrary to company policy.

At the 90-day mark, the regional chaplain who hired O’Daniel conducted a competency check and concluded that O’Daniel did not meet basic standards. O’Daniel was discharged.

Then he sued, alleging race discrimination. He claimed the regional chaplain was prejudiced and favored white or female chaplains.

The court dismissed the complaint, reasoning that it made no sense for the chaplain, who knew O’Daniel’s race when he hired him, to fire him because of his race 90 days later. (O’Daniel v. United Hospice, No. 4:09-CV-72, ED NC, 2010)

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