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Employees’ job qualifications changing? Document notice and offer additional training

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Jobs change, sometimes for reasons of operational efficiency. Other times, new job requirements are mandated by outside authorities, something that’s common in the education and health care industries.

Either way, be sure to give staff members as much notice as possible so they can seek additional training or look for other opportunities.

Recent case: For 24 years, Renee taught economics at Hinds Com­­munity College. She only had six graduate credits in economics, but was a popular and effective instructor nonetheless.

Then the college’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, changed its teaching requirements. Economics instructors needed to have at least 18 hours of graduate studies in their subject. The community college told all economics instructors they had to meet the requirement or they wouldn’t be allowed to teach.

Renee was one of 20 instructors who had to get additional credits, and the community college offered to pay for the additional coursework. Instead of accepting the college’s offer, Renee claimed she was already qualified and didn’t take the classes.

When her contract to teach wasn’t renewed, she sued, alleging retaliation. Her lawsuit accused the college of treating her unfairly because she had previously participated in a lawsuit against the school.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Renee’s case. It said she had only herself to blame and that there was no evidence the college did anything except abide by an outside requirement. (Akers v. Hinds Community College, No. 11-60116, 5th Cir., 2012)

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