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Eighty five percent (85%) of all employment lawsuits can be prevented!
Worse than a Soap Opera: How to Handle a Workplace Love Triangle
HR Stories From The Front Lines*
As an HR Professional, you’ve probably encountered your fair share of awkward situations. But what if you learned about a workplace relationship that involved not one but two subordinates and a manager?
Avoiding potential sexual harassment claims means handling sticky situations with extreme caution. Let’s see what we can learn from one HR Professional’s love triangle nightmare. *
Let’s join “Workplace Love Triangle” on HR Stories from the Frontlines.
Do you have an HR question keeping you up at night?
The following questions were submitted to our HR Professionals in the past month …
An employee got married and wants to change all her information to a new last name. Does the employee need to complete a new I9 and W4?
We have an employee that was fired on Tuesday. He wrecked the company truck in which he was driving. He is responsible for the deductible on the damage which will be $500.
This is his last check. He will not be available to sign any paperwork stating that he will make compensation so we want to take it out of his last check. How do I go about handling this situation?
Thanks for your help. The client cannot take the $500 out of his last check without his written permission. Correct?
Mary Anne has been a Legal Secretary at D.C.H. Law Firm since 2010. Until recently, she has been a good performer. However, over the past year, she has missed deadlines, become sloppy with her work, and overall isn’t performing as she had in the past.
The managing partner at the firm has spoken to Mary Anne numerous times about her declining performance. Each time, Mary Anne promised that her performance would improve, but instead, her performance worsened. None of these conversations were documented and all of Mary Anne’s performance reviews reflect good performance.
Last month, Mary Anne took a week off work to attend a convention for her church. When she requested the time off, she informed the Firm of the reason for the time off.
During her absence, the managing partner discovered that Mary Anne had made a significant error that negatively impacted a client and exposed the Firm to a potential malpractice claim. This most recent error was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Based on her decline in performance and the recently discovered error, Mary Anne is terminated. From the Firm’s perspective, it shouldn’t have been a surprise; they have been talking to her about the problems for quite some time.
Last week, the Firm received an EEOC charge claiming that Mary Anne had been discriminated against and terminated because of her religion. In its response to the EEOC, the Firm asserts that Mary Anne was terminated due to poor performance and cites several examples. However, no documentation was provided to support these examples. What is the EEOC’s likely response?
The EEOC completely understood the situation. Once Mary Anne’s decline in performance was explained, the EEOC investigator understood why Mary Anne was terminated and dismissed the charge.
The EEOC investigator responded by scheduling personal interviews with the managing partner and other members of the Firm. By “ramping up” its investigation, it appears that the EEOC sided with Mary Anne and completely discounted the Firm’s written response.
The EEOC investigator asked to see documentation of Mary Anne’s performance problems and any written evidence that she was disciplined for her poor performance. When the Firm was unable to provide any documents, the investigator asked a lot of questions about Mary Anne’s absence and why she was terminated immediately following the time off. In the end, the investigator concluded Mary Anne had faced religious discrimination in the workplace and that she was terminated in retaliation for taking the time off to attend her church conference.
The final article of our three-part series emphasizes documentation.
“Did you document that?” This is a question that all HR Professionals receive relating to employees. Whether it’s communicating a company-wide change in policy, reporting a change in compensation,
or memorializing a performance issue, it is vital that you document these events so that the company has a clear record of an employee’s history with the company – good or bad.
Read ahead for part three of our series to Avoid HR Disasters – Document, Document, Document.
This information is provided by ePlace Solutions, Inc. which is solely responsible for its content. ePlace Solutions, Inc. is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services. Federal and state laws are more complex than presented here. This information is simplified for the sake of brevity and is not a substitute for legal advice. ePlace Solutions, Inc. disclaims any liability, loss or risk incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this information.