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 September 12, 2013, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) issued a decision finding that a company illegally retaliated against an employee who had recently complained of discrimination. The case, MCAD v. Saybolt, LP is discussed below.
What You Need To Know. Anytime you want to discipline or terminate an employee who has complained of discrimination or any violation of law, you must recognize that your action could be seen as illegal retaliation. Before taking any action, you should review the facts and make sure your decision to terminate or discipline the employee hasn’t been influenced, at all, by the employee’s recent complaints. Further, since your decision could easily been seen as retaliation, you should consider slowing down your process and taking less drastic steps to help improve a problem employee. Only after your efforts to help the employee have failed should you move forward and terminate someone based upon performance if the person has recently filed a complaint.
This ruling by the MCAD discusses a classic case where a company has trouble managing an employee who has complained that a manager discriminated against the employee. Continue reading →
The Massachusetts Appeals Court issued a ruling on October 18, 2013. that an employee could not collect worker’s compensation for a stress injury arising from a workplace investigation. The case, Upton’s Case, is discussed below.
What You Need To Know. Done correctly, an investigation into employee misconduct that causes an employee to leave work with a stress related injury will not support a workers’ compensation claim. However, a poorly handled or abusive investigation, could be the basis for a claim. So, before beginning an investigation into employee misconduct, you should review the matter with counsel to ensure your plan and methods are acceptable.