Before you decide to terminate employees for budgetary reasons, make sure you are prepared to justify that rationale. Otherwise—and especially if you provide other reasons later—your motivation may look suspect if the employee sues.
Recent case: A group of county laborers complained that a new commissioner was making them perform work at private residences on county time with county equipment and materials. Shortly after, they were terminated in a budgetary crackdown.
They sued, alleging that speaking out on the commissioner’s wrongdoing had cost them their jobs.
The court said their cases could go forward after hearing the commissioner testify about contradictory reasons for firing them—plus a sudden budgetary surplus that allowed the county to hire more employees after the complaining workers were terminated. (Del Bosque v. Starr County, No. 14-41414, 5th Cir., 2015)
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- Establish clear record of who made termination decision and why employee had to go