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 January 28, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire issued an opinion allowing a defamation case to proceed against an employer who said an employee was terminated for performing a “heinous act” or a “heinous crime.” Grivois v. Wentworth Douglas Hospital.
What You Need To Know. After terminating an employee, a company should provide other employees with minimal information concerning the reason for the termination. While telling employees that there were performance problems or that the employee was not “a good fit” is probably acceptable, – as long as the statements are true – employers should not provide greater detail or make statements that include personal information or cast the terminated employee in a bad light.
Grivois sued for defamation because a supervisor allegedly told people she was fired for “a heinous act” or “a heinous crime.” 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 →
On October 9, 2013, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling discussing employee rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The case, McArdle v Town of Dracut, is discussed below.
What You Need To Know. Always verify an employee’s eligibility for FMLA before granting leave but make sure you don’t retaliate against an employee who request leave or inquires about leave even if the employee is not eligible for FMLA leave. Continue reading →
Here is a great example of how management’s poor planning (and stupidity) can really help an employee’s lawsuit against the company. The court decision discussed, (Hollingsworth v Sheriff’s Office of Winn Parish, was issued on October 3, 2013.
What You Need to Know. The key lesson from this case is that employers need to think through the reasons for a termination before taking action, provide terminated employees with accurate explanations for the termination, and make sure the companies actions remain consistent with that explanation even after the termination is complete. Do not lie to an employee about a termination because, as you will see below, the lie could come back to bite you in court. Continue reading →