Discriminatory Termination of Employment: Can't Take The Curse Off

by on June 1, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Hiring the class of person you fired won’t necessarily clear you

An employer can’t bypass claims of a discriminatory termination of employment by hiring another member of the group that was allegedly discriminated against.

That’s the upshot of a recent federal court decision in Virginia. An employee claimed she was fired because her boss had a burr under his saddle about women, especially pregnant ones. After she became pregnant, she said, he fabricated a case for ousting her, and did so several months after she gave birth. When she sued for sex and pregnancy discrimination, the court didn’t dismiss her case, as many observers expected.

Different decision makers
Usually, to make a discriminatory termination of employment case, employees must show not only that they were doing their job adequately, but also that they were replaced by a person outside their class. In other words, a white person replaces a black, or a man replaces a woman.

But the court carved out an exception in this case. An employee doesn’t have to show he or she was replaced by a person outside their class if one decision maker fires discriminatorily, and a different one hires a replacement from a protected class.

Wrongful discharge
Of course, the best way to making sure you document a clear business purpose for firing before issuing termination of employment

Managers need to be aware that their concerns over productivity are only part of the equation, and that they can cost the company a pile by a wrongful termination of employment.

Cite: Miles v. Dell, No. 04-2500, 4th Cir., 11/22/05.

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