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Keep good records to justify every termination

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in Firing,Human Resources

Employees confronted with losing their jobs and lacking other employment prospects on the horizon are often tempted to sue. As the employer, you may have no idea what their lawsuit may claim.

That’s why it is crucial to plan as if every termination will be challenged. Be prepared to fight back with the best possible records, including solid, job-related reasons that clearly document why your termination decision was fair and justified.

Recent case: Mihai worked as a school bus driver. He did not get along with his female supervisor, whom he accused of calling him “skinny boy.” He apparently took this as sexual harassment. He also claimed the supervisor tried to assign him to drive a defective bus.

Around that same time, Mihai refused to drive a bus using the route he had been assigned. He also failed to tell supervisors about an incident involving a student who got sick on the bus.

Mihai sought counseling for job stress, at some point taking FMLA leave. Apparently, during a meeting with his new therapist, he revealed that he legally owned two handguns. The therapist’s records noted that Mihai said he owns “two Glocks” and he felt his supervisors were “out to get him,” so he might “take matters into his own hands.” The therapist called police, who had Mihai surrender the guns.

After the employer learned of the alleged threats, they placed him on leave and stationed a guard at each workplace en­­trance. Mihai was eventually fired for threatening behavior and the other documented incidents.

He sued, alleging retaliation for reporting sexual harassment and taking FMLA leave for stress.

The court said he had nothing to counter the legitimate discharge reasons the employer had documented. His lawsuit was dismissed. (Ilinca v. Board of Cooperative Education, No. 13-CV-3500, ED NY, 2016)

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