Firing is Not Always Wrongful
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) October 15, 2012 – Employees need to have clear guidelines dealing with how to complain about discrimination or harassment.
“If an employer does not have a clear and well defined handbook, or guidelines, for employees to follow in situations that involve harassment or discrimination, and someone does get let go for poor performance or misconduct, the company could well face a lengthy litigation process if the worker complains to the EEOC,” explained Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.
Employees need to know how they should complain about any type of mistreatment, harassment or discrimination in the workplace. They need a clear reporting structure and complaint procedure. “A case in point is Lambert v. Peri Formworks System, No. 10-C-6789, SD IL, 2012. Lambert was a yard worker, and the company had a zero tolerance policy for anyone working under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They insisted on blood tests after any accidents and/or on the grounds of reasonable suspicion that a worker may be violating the policy,” outlined Coffey.
Evidently, several supervisors thought the yard worker was acting in a strange manner, and thus management told him he must go for drug and alcohol screening. On his way to have the tests, he drank five cups of coffee, but still tested positive for alcohol. The company promptly fired him. Subsequent to being terminated, he sued the company, stating he was forced to do his job in a sexually and racially hostile workplace.
“This case was dismissed once the company outlined their policy, including their training program on how to file a complaint. The handbook was clear that workers were to contact the Human Resources unit if they had any discrimination complaints. The man did not contact Human Resources. The court subsequently decided his claim after the fact would not be successful in light of the evidence,” said Coffey. He was not wrongfully dismissed.
It is important to note that a company must have clear policies in place, including procedures on how to file a claim, how to go above a supervisor who may be the problem, who to contact in the company, and ensure every worker is aware of the process and understands it. It does not hurt for management to regularly remind workers of their policies, just as it is important for the workers to actually follow the policy guidelines if they have been harassed or victims of discrimination.
Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654
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