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termination

Discussion in 'Termination: Firing & Resignation' started by dhb1953, Jan 10, 2004.

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  1. dhb1953

    dhb1953 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    my son worked for a temporary placement service in a temp-to-perm capacity with the client company for over 3 months. the contract was scheduled to run out in approximately a week; however, the client company had announced they would be filling a few permanent positions. approximately 6 of the temps would not be hired at the end of the contract. the client company, as a note, is a large and nationally recognized supplier of human resource outsourcing services/products.

    my son had received a number of commendations from his temporary service, the client company and companies associated with the client company with whom he was in regular contact. he had been rewarded with additional duties and responsibilities as a result of his work ethic, quality of work, and ability to multi-task without compromising work integrity. he performed duties as requested, and was the only temp to work overtime when it was offered. although no formal offer had been made, it was made apparent he would be offered one of the permanent positions. he appeared to be well-regarded by permanent employees, and was exceeding performance expectations during . there did seem to be escalating tension between temps who were in competition for the permanent positions and he felt there was more than mild resentment directed toward him (in the form of non-cooperation) because he had been given additional responsibilities. he loved the job, enjoyed the people he worked with, and looked forward to going to work every day. he was excited about not only the opportunities available to him, but also the educational reimbursement program that would enable him to return to school.

    today he was fired. it was unexpected, and fast. he was told only that another temp had reported she had overheard him saying yesterday he was going to bring a gun to work, and she was in fear for her safety. when he was called to the HR department, he wasn't questioned or searched. there was no investigation and he was not given opportunity to respond to the allegations. he was simply terminated. given the climate, he did not feel it would be appropriate to attempt to dialogue at that point out of concern for appearing either confrontational or argumentative. he was escorted from the building without opportunity to examine his desk for personal items. in the presence of the HR department of the client company, his temporary service representatives told him they would be unable to work with him (place him in other assignments) given the circumstances.

    he contacted his primary contact at the temp service on arriving home, and was told they were shocked by what had happened, and surprised there had been no investigation. he was told the temporary service viewed the allegation to be heresay (the "he said-she said" thing), but that the client company had made the termination decision. the temporary service manager had stated my son would be ineligible for rehire, but his primary contact told him they were very busy and he wanted to place him in another assignment. he did say such a comment would have been completely out of character for my son (white male, mid 20's). the temp who made the allegation (black female, mid 30's) is married to a preacher. she did not make the report to the temporary service (her employer of record), but went straight to the HR department of the client company. the temporary service was left out of the loop until after the actual termination decision had been made.

    in talking to his contact, my son advised that yesterday he had been talking with his supervisor (of the client company). my son had mentioned some time ago he had been mugged in the vicinity of the client company approximately a year ago. the supervisor asked him about it, and then asked if he carried a weapon as a result. my son told him that not only did he not carry a weapon of any type, he is an ardent advocate of gun control legislation and that he practices non-violence in his life. his supervisor told him he has several guns as a part of a personal collection. it was a casual conversation, and my son - in retrospect - felt the other temp (who works in proximity to the point of conversation) had overhead them talking, heard the key word "gun", and taken it out of context either out of personal bias associated with personal experience and/or fears, or as an opportunity to trim the field of competition.

    my son requested a formal investigation in order to clear his name. he also asked them to review any video or audio tapes they may have of the area to support his position. although he was told to get back with them next week to follow-up on the request, he does not feel as though there will be an investigation, and that the conversation was intended to placate my son. his contact told my son to show on job applications that his final date of employment was associated with the end of the contract, and that he personally should be called to provide a job reference. given the high turnover in temporary service agencies, a single contact is not a reliable resource for a reference in today's job market. the implication, as well, is that other representatives of the temporary service agency would not be generous in their references due to the nature of the termination.

    shortly after this conversation, and within 3 hours of the termination, my son received a call from a friend who had talked to an individual he had worked with until today. this individual was absent from work today, but had contacted their mutual friend to contact brad to find out what had happened today. she said simply that she had heard through the grapevine that my son had been terminated for having brought a gun to work, and that was - again - completely out of character for my son.

    there is no question that accusing employee had the right to address any concern she may have felt. employers have the legal - and moral - responsibility to provide a safe workplace - particularly given that workplace violence issues have escalated over the past few years. however, it is not reasonable that a termination be effected on the basis of one employee's statement, and without benefit of an investigation - or even allowed the accused party to offer a statement in his own behalf.

    there appear to be two issues: wrongful termination and defamation of character.

    the immediate issues are fairly clear: finding another job without having to deal with the burden of defending erroneous allegations.

    the question is, what can be done?
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Does the placement service have a set of company guidelines that handle such issues? Did your son receive an employee handbook?

    I don't disagree with you about the potential for a defamation suit which might be brought against both the employee and employer, especially if the 'word around the company' is that your son was fired for bringing a gun and that information was somehow leaked from the HR department. I'm not saying that this is an easy case. Speaking to an attorney might be a good idea but this might not be an easy wrong to redress.

     

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