Even if an employer has done everything correctly – given ample warnings, progressive discipline – a terminated employee sometimes still files suit. A recent case illustrates the point. A grocery clerk was terminated after receiving over a dozen warnings about rudeness to customers, including a “last chance” agreement. Nevertheless, the terminated clerk sued. The clerk claimed that other employees had done the same thing and had not been punished. But she could not find any proof that this was the case. The court held that she could not make a case on the face of the evidence, but even if she could, the employer clearly articulated a legitimate business reason for terminating her and she would be unable to show that the employer’s explanation was a pretext. The employer had a long standing policy requiring a courtesy to customers. The employee had signed a notice saying that she understood this policy. The employee had violated the policy numerous times. Hence her case was dismissed.
This case confirms the importance of employers having written policies and documentation that the employee has received and understands those policies. For more information on employer policies and handbooks, or other labor and employment law issues, contact a member of the Firm’s Labor & Employment Law practice team.