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Sudden harassment claim? Investigate before firing

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Sometimes, employees hold back on reporting sexual harassment out of fear, especially if the perpetrator is a supervisor. The first you hear about it may be during the termination meeting.

If that happens, suspend the employee instead of firing him. That will give you time to investigate.

Recent case: James worked as a pharmacist. His supervisor documented work problems and wanted James fired. During the termination meeting, James alleged that the supervisor had sexually harassed him. He was then suspended rather than fired. An investigation found no merit to his harassment claims, so he was ultimately fired—and he sued.

The court tossed out his case, agreeing with the employer that, in this case, the allegations were made merely to stop discharge. (Wallner v. Biggs-Gridley Memorial, No. C075599, California Court of Appeal, 2015)

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