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Make sure your good records are dated, too

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources

When it comes to litigation, employers that keep meticulous performance records and can pinpoint exactly when they made important employment decisions typically fare better than those who keep sloppy records.

Recent case: Diane, who worked for a bank, suffered from frequent migraine headaches, which required her to take regular time off. She was granted intermittent FMLA leave on an as-needed basis and never had any trouble using that leave.

She received a performance review that mentioned she had some productivity problems over the past year. However, it said the employer expected the next year to go better.

Shortly after that review, she took a migraine day. The following day, the bank terminated her.

She sued, alleging that she had been terminated because of her disability and because she took FMLA leave.

But the bank had carefully dated notes that showed she had really been fired for violating a workplace rule against making loans for her personal benefit. She had apparently approved a loan for her sister that she subsequently used to pay her own mortgage. When the loan became delinquent, a supervisor asked Diane to get her sister to make payments loan. Diane paid the loan in full from her own account.

That triggered an HR investigation, which established a timeline. Diane had approved the loan for her sister sometime before she received her evaluation—and before she took her intermittent leave. The loan violated bank rules and led directly to her discharge.

The court dismissed Diane’s lawsuit, pointing out that the evaluation showed that the bank had originally planned to retain Diane despite her absences. (Justice v. Renasant Bank, 5th Cir., 2017)

Final note: Make sure you time stamp or date every document. That includes performance reviews, investigation start and end dates and final decisions.

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