Sometimes it can be difficult to draw the line between discrimination and what is not discrimination. A person fired could claim that they were discriminated or retaliated against, but they must prove that such an action took place.
One of the issues that employers face is when they have a good employee with a bad attitude.
It can be a difficult decision to terminate because of the possible backlash, which is why it is very important to document misbehavior. When you have proper documentation, then you can better protect yourself against claims that the termination was due to any type of discrimination.
In one case, a man, who is black, moved through the ranks on his job. Although he was a manager, he had difficulty getting along with other people. His inability to get along caused him to get into frequent arguments with coworkers and this led to him being counseled a lot about his behavior.
It was only a matter of time before he got into an argument with someone that he was given only one more chance. He was warned that another altercation with a person would result in his termination. The man argued with his boss, claiming that another employee or individual could set him up, causing him to get into another altercation.
The man was fired from his job, so he decided to sue his employer. Because he couldn’t point to someone outside of his protected class who received more favorable treatment than he had, he didn’t win the lawsuit.
Due to the employer keeping good records of the misbehavior and disciplinary action, the employer had a strong defense against the lawsuit. There was also the fact the employer didn’t discriminate at all, so the plaintiff didn’t have a very strong case against their former employer.
Had the employer not kept impeccable records, the former employee’s case would have been stronger. If someone outside of the former employee’s protected class had been treated more favorably, then it is possible his case could have been stronger as well. If the employer hadn’t warned the man before his last offense, then it could look more like discrimination based on race was a possibility.
It is important for both employers and employees to keep good records of incidents in the workplace and to account for any witnesses. This helps a plaintiff with a legitimate case build a strong case and can help an innocent employer better defend themselves.
Both sides will need an experienced employment law lawyer to help them when faced with such matters.