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Fired after using FMLA leave? Expect lawsuit

Firing an employee while referencing use of FMLA leave may trigger a retaliation lawsuit.

Always record the date when you made a decision to fire

Do you note the date and time of every termination decision? If not, you should.

Don’t assign disciplinary points for reporting injuries

A federal court awarded a machine operator in Wisconsin $100,000 in back wages and compensatory damages after he was fired soon after reporting an on-the-job injury.

Contractors can sue for bystander retaliation

If employees say something when they witness sexual harassment, a corporate culture that tolerates sexual harassment will begin to change. But what happens if an independent contractor or temporary worker reports witnessing sexual harassment? Is he or she protected from retaliation?

Document time of performance problems in case employee registers bogus complaints

Employees who face discipline sometimes fight back with their own discrimination complaints. Terminating such an employee shortly afterward can look suspiciously like the complaint precipitated the discipline. The best way to prevent that impression is to carefully document the reasons for the disciplinary meeting in the first place.

Minor workplace changes aren’t enough to justify lawsuit alleging bias or retaliation

Courts don’t want to micromanage your business. Make sure you can explain workplace changes in the context of legitimate business needs.

Treat persistent complainer just as you do others

Don’t give special treatment to employees who have filed complaints. The rules everyone else must follow apply to them as well. They may complain more, but they won’t get far.

Employee who complains isn’t immune from discipline

Employers can’t retaliate against employees who file discrimination or harassment complaints. But that doesn’t mean you can never discipline those employees.

Simple warning doesn’t constitute retaliation

A mere warning that one is facing potential disciplinary action doesn’t amount to retaliation for filing a discrimination complaint.

Discrimination claims must be based on good faith

Complaining about discrimination is considered protected activity. Punishing employees for com­plaining may be retaliation even if it turns out that the original claim was meritless. However, the original complaint must have been made in good faith.