New hire: How much notice due before firing?

The job of Service Equipment Mechanic required a 2-mo probationary period for new employees. The policy manual also specified a supervisory progress report during this time to let new hires know how they were doing.


The job of Service Equipment Mechanic required a 2-mo probationary period for new employees. The policy manual also specified a supervisory progress report during this time to let new hires know how they were doing.

Fred Kalko's report, issued 6-wk after his starting date, wasn't encouraging. Too slow, inadequate comprehension of drawings and prints, etc. At the end of the probationary period, the employee was advised by Maintenance Supervisor Jack Healy that he would have to let him go.

"It's not fair," Kalko protested. "You didn't give me a chance. If you discussed my faults earlier, I would have had time to correct them. Besides, you shouldn't have waited until the last day to fire me."

Healy disagreed. "'For one thing," he replied, "you had more than 2-wk after the progress report to show signs of improvement. I saw no change in your performance. It's clear to me you lack the knowledge and experience needed for the job. No provision in the manual specifies a requirement that a probationary employee be informed in advance of his termination. I'm sorry, Fred, but in my judgment you're too light for the job."

Kalko persisted in his belief that he had been unfairly treated and threatened to sue.

Question : Does Kalko have a legitimate beef?

Rudin's verdict: "The termination stands," Plant Engineer Vincent Rudin ruled when informed of Kalko's threat. "No provision in the policy manual specifies a time frame for either evaluating a probationary employee's performance or informing him of the decision to keep him on or let him go. Nor is there an indication that Kalko was mistreated or discriminated against in any way, or that the handling of his case was inconsistent with the way other probationary judgments were made."

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