On February 28, 2014, a Massachusetts court dismissed a discrimination claim brought by three employees against a nursing home base in part on the employer’s detailed investigation and written record of discipline. The case Metelus v. Wingate Healthcare, Inc., demonstrates the importance of thorough and well documented investigations and discipline.
What You Need To Know. When faced with a discrimination claim, employers need evidence showing how employees were treated fairly and consistently. A thorough investigation into employee misconduct and well documented disciplinary warnings will help significantly if a court has to review a termination.
In the Metelus case, three nursing assistants were terminated for refusing a supervisor’s request that they work on another floor to meet patient demand. The nursing assistants threatened to walk off the job if ordered to change floors. Instead of disciplining the three employees on the spot, Wingate’s Nursing Director promptly conducted a thorough investigation. Continue reading →
On February 28, 2014, a Massachusetts court ruled that an employee handbook, when properly written, was not a contract between the employer and employee. The case, Metelus v. Wingate Healthcare, Inc., is a positive decision for employers and supports the use of well-crafted employee handbooks.
What You Need To Know. Employee handbooks are helpful tools to establish workplace rules and expectations. As long as your handbook uses discretionary language and includes employer flexibility to address each situation as appropriate to the facts, your handbook should not be considered a binding contract.
In the Metelus case, a nursing home was sued for discrimination and breach of contract by three former nursing assistants who were terminated for refusing to follow orders and for poor patient care. Continue reading →
Recent cases from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Massachusetts Appeals Court offer guidance for when you have to offer an employee a transfer as a disability accommodation and when you do not.
What You Need To Know. There is no fixed rule on offering a transfer or new job in response to a request for an accommodation. As set forth below, each case will be reviewed based upon its specific facts. But, don’t let anyone tell you that you never have to transfer an employee or that you must transfer an employee if the employee makes this request to accommodate a disability.
Under Massachusetts law, employers have traditionally been advised that they are not required to transfer an employee to a new job if the employee’s disability prohibits the employee from performing his or her current job. Continue reading →
On October 7, 2013, the United States District Court in Massachusetts issued a ruling discussing the potential problems associated with hiring your defense lawyer to perform investigations into employee misconduct. The case of Koss v. Palmer Water Departmentis discussed below.
What You Need To Know. If you want to conduct an investigation into employee misconduct. You need to bring in an independent investigator as opposed to your regular defense counsel. Because the investigator could be called as a witness at a subsequent trial and ordered to turn over all his or her work papers, you don’t want your defense lawyer conducting the investigation, testifying as a witness, and being barred from representing you.
The Palmer Water Department received a sexual harassment complaint brought by one of its employees. If that happened to you, what to do? Continue reading →