As in faster than an employee can complain about discrimination to HR or to the EEOC.
Me: Eric Meyer
Caller: Oh hey, Eric. It’s [insert name of HR Director] from [insert name of Company].
Caller: That’s getting old, Eric. But, if you’d like, I can hang up and have “1999” call you back.
Me: You win this round. How can I help you?
Caller: I have a question about a possible employee termination.
Me: Ok. Whass— How can I help you?
Caller: Well, you see Eric, we want to terminate the employment of [insert name of employee with 15 performance issues over 6 months; maybe 1 of which is actually documented]…
*** waits for it ***
Caller: But, here’s the thing…
*** waits for it ***
Caller: The other day, he came to HR and complained about a manager singling him out because of [insert protected class]. And— Eric, did you just, “ka-ching”?
Caller: Yes, you did! And I’ll bet you pumped your fist too!
Me: No, I didn’t. Pics or it didn’t happen.
Caller: Whatever. ***Googles “New Employment Lawyer” AND Mature AND “no blogs whatsoever”*** I know the complaint is probably BS. We’ll investigate. But, how long afterwards do we have to wait until we fire him.
Me: Well, I read this jawn yesterday from the Eighth Circuit. It’s about a retaliation claim that the court allowed to survive a motion to dismiss because the plaintiff pled that she complained to the EEOC and was fired 6 weeks later. If the case gets to trial, she’ll likely need to have more proof of retaliation, but it’ll cost the employer a lot in defense costs if it wants to litigate.
Caller: Eric, did you just, “ka-ching” again?
Me: Maybe that time, I did.
Caller: And, did I hear a cash register next to your phone?
Me: I have many things on my desk. Let me tell you the story of my Guns N Roses action figures.
- Document performance issues.
- Take all complaints of discrimination seriously.
- Hire slow; fire fast; preferably before the employee with performance issues complains about discrimination.
- And, if you don’t fire fast enough, but you have a legitimate business reason for firing someone after they complain about discrimination, maybe wait a few months before carrying that out. Otherwise, you may have to pay a lawyer to defend a retaliation claim.