Moving up termination after complaint equals retaliation
So, you’ve decided to fire an employee for performance reasons, but you plan to delay the termination until you can hire her replacement. The employee then learns of her impending termination and complains to you about the decision. You, now fearing that she’ll sabotage her work if you keep her on the job, decide to terminate her immediately. You’re safe from a lawsuit because you had already made the decision to terminate her, right? Wrong. A federal appeals court decided that it was retaliation, plain and simple, when an employer moved up the employee’s termination date after she complained about the decision to terminate her. It made no difference to the court that the employer had already made the decision to terminate the employee by the time she complained (Alvarez v. Royal Atlantic Developers, Inc., 11th Cir, July 2010).
Tips: Anytime an employee engages in a protected activity (e.g., complaining of harassment or making a safety complaint) and you take any adverse employment action against them because of that protected activity (in this case, moving up the termination date, or transferring the employee to a less favorable job) you have the perfect recipe for a retaliation claim. For more information, check out Vigilant’s Legal Guide, “Retaliation Claims: How to Avoid Them” (1308) or contact your Vigilant staff representative.
This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.