Getting rid of a dud? Take care
Not only is it sometimes difficult to fire an employee who doesn't live up to the mark, it can be costly as well, if the current trend continues.
Not only is it sometimes difficult to fire an employee who doesn't live up to the mark, it can be costly as well, if the current trend continues. New York City Attorney Ellizabeth Hobson says, "The backlog of defamation cases initiated by discharged workers against their former employers is close to an all-time high. Some cases on file show judgments awarded in excess of $10 million."
Usually the higher priced the terminated employee, and the tighter the labor market, the greater the judgment. An engineer in his mid-30s, who blamed "loss of reputation due to defamation" for his inability to obtain new employment, won a $7 million suit.
Defamation comes in a variety of brands and the plaintiff must prove that the ex-employer's statement was "published" which means written or verbal "publication." Proof must also be furnished that the statement was false and resulted in injury.
"One way for a company to avoid getting stung," says Hobson, "is to initiate a policy for reference requests to be handled by skilled personnel executives with the training and savvy to avoid careless and thoughtless statements." The importance of care must also be stressed with regard to other than reference situations as well.
In one situation, a suit was initiated by a discharged welder unable to find reemployment in a suburban Ohio town. He won a fat award after being able to prove that a statement made by his former supervisor while at lunch with two other supervisors from nearby plants caused "irreparable damage to his reputation." The statement: "That guy's an accident waiting to happen," made the rounds in the local community, the plaintiff claimed, and resulted in his "virtual blacklisting."
Examples of defamation involve statements alleging dishonesty, sexual misconduct, and incompetence which reach prospective employers.
Question: What steps can management take to minimize the risk of defamation lawsuits?
Safest course: As stated, those authorized to respond to reference inquiries should be highly selective. On top of that, supervisors and managers should be briefed and made aware of the pitfalls and risks involved. Care should be taken to assure that performance appraisals are seen only by authorized personnel. Finally, all personnel should be cautioned against expressing negative comments about other employees, former and current.
Case Study Database
Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.
These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.
Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.
2012 Salary Survey
In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.
Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.