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Don’t fret needlessly over being right

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in Firing,Human Resources

Management doesn’t need to base its decisions on proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Courts generally uphold termination decisions, even if it turns out they were based on faulty information.

Simply put, as long as an employer reasonably believes it’s firing an em­­ployee for a good reason, it doesn’t have to be right.

Recent case: Pearl McCrimon worked for an assisted-living facility that provides 24-hour nursing and medical care for approximately 100 elderly residents. McCrimon’s duties included bathing residents, serving meals, cleaning, doing laundry, accom­panying residents to appointments and styling their hair.

She was fired after a resident’s family abruptly withdrew the resident from the home. The family sent a letter to managers claiming that McCrimon had told the resident that her family had abandoned her, wanted to place her in a mental institution and that her caretaker only wanted to take her money.

McCrimon sued, alleging that she had really been fired for collecting workers’ compensation benefits at one point.

She argued that the family was wrong about what she allegedly had told the resident and that the employer had merely used the letter as an excuse to get rid of her.

The court tossed McCrimon’s claim. It reasoned that the em­­ployer didn’t have to be right about the underlying facts—it merely had to reasonably believe them. In this case, it was perfectly reasonable for the employer to believe the family’s account. (McCrimon v. Inner City Nursing Home, No. 1:10-CV-392, ND OH, 2011)

Final note: McCrimon also argued that she never had a chance to explain her side of the story. Her employer said it didn’t need to hear her side because whenever she had been confronted in the past, she had flat-out denied any wrongdoing.

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