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Key to beating bias suits: Consistent discipline

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in FMLA Guidelines,Leaders & Managers,People Management

Want a guarantee that your firing decisions will stick even if a terminated employee claims he was the victim of discrimination? Then make sure you equally and consistently punish all employees who break the same rules.

Courts really do hate to interfere with personnel decisions when it looks like an employer has been reliably fair.

Recent case: Isidro worked as a truck driver until he had a health crisis at age 75 and took a month of FMLA leave to recover. On his first day back at work, he got a pink slip.

The employer told him he was being fired for his poor driving record, which included five instances of unsafe driving within the previous two years on the job.

Isidro sued, alleging that he was really fired because of his advancing age.

But he could not show that a younger driver with a similar driving record had been treated more leniently. In fact, the only younger driver who was remotely comparable to Isidro had also been discharged after a series of accidents. The court dismissed the case, reasoning that Isidro hadn’t proven that age was the real, underlying reason for his termination. (Galvan v. Spirit Truck Lines, No. 13-15-00350, Court of Appeals of Texas, 2016)

Remember: The FMLA does not protect employees from discipline unrelated to their absence.

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