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Details make the difference when defending discipline

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

We’ve said it before: Document every disciplinary action and be specific. The employer in this case won because it had excellent contemporaneous records to explain its disciplinary action.

Recent case: Josette, who was over age 60, had worked for many years as a school teacher, progressing through the ranks until she became a school principal. Then her students began doing poorly on standardized tests and Josette was informed she would be terminated if she didn’t take a demotion to a teaching position.

She declined and sued for age bias. Josette argued that another, younger principal whose school had also underperformed had been transferred to an administrative job, not back to the classroom. This, she argued, showed that the district favored young principals even if they were failing.

But the school district kept detailed records showing why it offered the younger principal reassignment to an administrative job. He had extensive experience in administration, while Josette’s talents lay in teaching. That’s why she was offered the teaching spot.

Those details were enough to convince the court that neither principal was favored over the other. Each was simply offered an alternative to discharge that was well-suited to their experience. (Ripoll v. Dobard, et al., No. 14-30445, 5th Cir., 2015)

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