Fair is fair: Before you fire, give employee a chance to tell her side of the story — 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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Fair is fair: Before you fire, give employee a chance to tell her side of the story

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in Firing,Human Resources

Want to look good to a judge? Then take the extra time to let employees tell their side of the story before you fire them.

Recent case: Leandra worked at a Nutrisystem call center until she was fired for allegedly spending work time on personal projects, dropping calls and treating callers rudely.

She sued, alleging that she really had been fired in retaliation for an earlier complaint she made about rude co-workers and supervisors. Lean­­dra also claimed that she hadn’t dropped any calls. Rather, she said, she had been issued a defective phone that sometimes cut off callers.

But Nutrisystem was ready. It told the judge that before it made the final discharge decision, it let Lean­­dra explain her actions. At that time, Leandra admitted doing personal work while she was supposed to be ­handling calls.

Plus, when Leandra in­­formed HR that she hadn’t dropped the calls, the company checked her equipment. It found nothing wrong, so it fired her.

The court said Nutrisystem acted fairly and legally. It fired Leandra for legitimate business reasons. The case was dismissed. (Allen v. Nutrisystem, No. 13-2505, 3rd Cir., 2013)

Final note: Although an employer can fire an at-will employee for a frivolous reason (or even no reason at all), it helps to use a fair and reasonable one. That way, the employee can’t argue she was singled out be­­cause of her membership in a protected class.

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