Can an employee be replaced for lack of experience after 16 years on the job? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Can an employee be replaced for lack of experience after 16 years on the job?

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Question: After 16 years at the same job, an employee was replaced because of lack of experience by a new hire who only knew how to do half the job. The new hire was fired and the person now holding the job has no experience and moved into the job by request within the company. The job opening was not posted. Is this correct procedure? — Pay


This clearly sounds like a case of age discrimination, violation of EEOC's and DOL's Uniform Guidelines for Hiring and some nepotism violations as well. I would have to know more, but from the scenario- this looks really bad for the company.

I'm not sure which state you are in, but Texas is a right to work state which means an employer doesn't have to give you any reason to terminate you. However, you cannot be discriminated against. If you are over 40 and the person with whom you were replaced is under 40, you very possibly have an age discrimination case. If you are a minority and they replaced you with a caucasion, you very possibly have a race discrimination case. The bottom line comes down to whether or not they were discriminating against you when they fired you, or did they fire you for cause.

At the very least, you should be entitled to unemployment benefits.

Hope this helps.

It's very difficult to answer this question fairly with only the info given. I suspect there is a lot more to the situation than has been shared here - such as why the experienced employee truly was let go to begin with. Despite her/his years of service there could be performance, behavior or attitude problems the employee doesn't want to recognize as detrimental to the organization. There are several other people's perspectives that must be known in order to make a completely honest assessment.

To automatically assume the company is wrong, or assume there is discrimination involved, is (in my opinion) premature. Rushing to judgment is usually part of the problem, not the solution.

Susan is correct if you are in TX they can fire and hire at will.
If you feel that it is discrimination, make sure tge person have a strong case. HR know their jobs well and when they let you go they know where they stand. I've been there. And though I could prove my work was excellent and had several excellent letters of recommendations from within the company, EEOC basically told me there was not much I could do unless I wanted to sue and then I would have a tough time doing so. Sometimes it's better to let go and move on. I did so, found a job that paid much, much better and have been with the company now more than 10 years.

I don't know why I am so amazed at these answers. You'd think we live in some communistic country instead of the good ole USA. This is all so sad that we throw away the wisdom of older people for the almight buck. The people at the helm of these companies should be ashamed of themselves. Just plain ashamed! Thanx for the info tho, I'll be sure NOT to move to Texas!

It is very hard to give a comment with only the information given. It is possible that only the employee and the employer know the real reason for replacement. During those 16 years a great deal of experience and commitment had to have been made, but was this employee qualified or even willing to change as the company grows or policies change? You might never know that answer. The part where the replacement didn't work out, well sometimes that happens it is very hard to choose the best candidate from only an interview and they don't always work out. Hopefully in the end, which doesn't always come fast enough your company will end up with a good fit. I would bet that the employer is feeling similar to you. Good Luck!

I would need more information about the situation. Chances are, your state is a "no reason" state which means an employee is subject to termination and no reason has to be given. If the employee was given the stated reason, s/he probably has good recourse if this case even makes it to court. However, if management can provide documentation that reasonable attempts were made to train the employee with no changed results, the employer would have just cause for termination.

In most of the USA, you are an employee-at-will unless you are covered by a union bargaining contract, or there is discrimination as stated by other posts. You can look at state & federal laws to help you dtermine if discrimination was actually involved. However, with the minimal info which you provided, it's very difficult for us in the blogosphere to determine what course of action you should take. And the first question that came to my mind was if the employee had been in the same job for 16 years, how could they have not acquired the experience necessay to keep their job? It seems that there is a lot more going on her than what you chose to reveal.

I see alot of accusations of age discrimination but we do not even know how old this person is, we only know that they have had the same job for 16 years. They could have gotten the job right out of high school. It could very well be that this employee was not keeping up with the latest technology or was very lax because they did have the job for so long. Without knowing all sides of the story it would be really difficult to determine what is going on. Florida is also a "right-to-work" state which means the company can hire and fire at will.

If the question is: "Does the terminated employee have an action?" depends on which terminated employee are we talking about - 16 years experience or the 6 month replacement.

As has been stated by others, not much information to form an opinion.

First, only a few people know the real reason, so the rest is speculation. Second, has anyone never dealt with an inept employee who deserved to be fired? These are the people who have no business having a job because they have not grown as the job world has. (Visit a local state or federal government office and you'll experience this first hand.) Yet, these same employees get to keep their job because it practically takes an "Act of Congress" to fire them - regardless of how incompetent or unqualified they may be. And, what's worse, these employees know they cannot be fired so they do nothing to change their approach (whether technical skill, attitude, etc.).

Employers should have the right to fire whomever they want - regardless of tenure. Granted, there are nasty employers out there but there are also nasty employees.

Have we all forgotten that working is a privilege and not a right? It our responsibility to do the best we can. We only get what we give and if we don't give 100%, we should not be so surprised at what happens.

I'd like to note that, although Texas is an at-will state, there are many times that the at-will doctrine is hard to uphold, especially when an employer's action has a disparate impact on a protected class (regardless of whether it was purposefully discriminating, which would be disparate treatment). However, the question that the contributor asks is whether this is the correct procedure. First, what part of the procedure are you talking about? The part where someone with 16 years in the same job was fired for lack of experience? Or that they were replaced with someone that only had enough knowledge to perform half of the job functions (but how much knowledge did the original employee have, and how much experience did the successor have)? Or was your question about the person who replaced the replacement that had NO experience (you're comparing apples with oranges by comparing knowledge with experience, which is not one and the same)? Or is your question about the fact that the job opening was never posted? These questions need answered to get a meaningful response. That being said, the answer to your question could be that the correct procedure would be based on the company policy rather than any outside opinions. The answer could also be that it depends on the demographics of the employee that was fired with 16 years in the same job, his or her predecessor, and the incumbent of the position. Age, race, and sex all play a part in a case like this. It’s the facts that are lacking that keep me (or anyone else, for that matter) from knowing for sure.

I agree with others that it is hard to answer this with only the information given. For example, you are asking if it was okay that the job opening was not posted. Except for when required due to a union contract, there is no requirement that a job has to be posted. If the company has a policy that all job openings are posted, then it would be an internal policy violation rather than a legal violation. As far as the excuse for the reason the person was fired, I agree with a previous commenter in that this probably was not the real reason. There are often plenty of reasons why someone would, and should, be fired even after 16 years of working somewhere. I have a feeling that there is more to that firing than what people were told.

There is a person on my staff who, after 9 years on the job, still can only perform the basics. I find myself explaining how to do the same things over and over (mostly when working with Excel spreadsheets). Online training is available, but this person has not taken advantage of it. She has no desire to advance, and is content to mostly deliver mail and do filing and basic data entry. When asked to take on more difficult tasks, she makes so many mistakes that the work has to be redone. In this type of situation, seeking a replacement would be beneficial.

I attended a seminar where the speaker shared a story about a good friend of hers who worked for a large corporation. The company was starting to hand out pink slips and her friend was confident that she was secure in her position. When her supervisor handed her her pink slip she was surprised. She asked how she could be let go - she had 15 years experience with the company. Her supervisor corrected her and said that she had one year experience that she used for the past 14 years. It is always a good practice to try to attend at least two seminars/conferences a year to keep current on new procedures and to get new ideas on how to improve at your job. In my current position as Assistant to Head of School, I always try to attend at least two seminars a year or take advantage of any opportunities I get to learn new ideas and techniques to help me improve my performance. Best of luck!

It is important to be fact-based in conclusions about this situation. It is entirely possible that a new-hire spotted a 16-year worker's weaknesses and acted to replace him/her with a better prepared employee. I'm not saying this is the case, but if we are to succeed as manager's or supervisors we must think logically, and at times we may need to make the tough decision to expose an underproductive worker who does not improve with training or coaching. The new supervisor may have higher standards and perhaps that is why he/she was hired. Just a thought.

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