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Best way to thwart discrimination lawsuits: Have manager who hired also handle the firing

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

It almost always makes sense for the same manager who hired a member of a protected class to also terminate that employee if necessary.

Courts presume that someone who is prejudiced would not hire someone who belongs to a protected class, only to turn around and fire the same employee due to prejudice.

Recent case: The Weather Channel hired Claudia Woodard, a black woman of Jamaican ancestry, to develop client relationships in hopes of selling advertising. The network then eliminated positions like Woodard’s and transferred the employees into ad sales jobs instead.

Woodard’s supervisor began hearing customer complaints and she earned a poor review. She was eventually terminated and sued, alleging she had been fired because of her race.

The court didn’t buy it, since the same person who picked her also had a part in her evaluation and termination. (Woodard v. TWC Media, No. 09-CV-3000, SD NY, 2011)

Final note: The Weather Channel helped itself by taking its time in this case. It worked with Woodard to help her improve her sales skills and set specific performance goals. But customer complaints continued to roll in. Some clients even refused to work with her, claiming she didn’t return calls and didn’t seem to understand the services she was selling.

Patience and good records that show how hard you tried to help the employee improve, often prove invaluable in court.

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