United States: Four Things Employers Do To Make The Holidays (Or Any Time Of Year) Happier For Plaintiffs' Attorneys

Employers want a happy workforce; that's a given. But there are certain things that employers do to further that goal that might as well be a present tied with a bow for a plaintiff's attorney after an employment relationship sours. Below are some tips to help avoid making a potential plaintiff's attorney's day merrier and brighter.

Performance Evaluation Puffery: Many are guilty of being overly generous in an employee's performance evaluation. Why? Because it is easier to give a good (or at least a decent) performance evaluation than it can be to confront performance issues and deal with the ensuing unhappiness of the underperforming employee. Often the thought is that by giving a positive performance evaluation, the performance problems will disappear, as if positive feedback will translate into positive performance. This wishful thinking is almost never the case in reality, and a track record of positive performance evaluations for an employee who is ultimately terminated for performance is bound to put a smile on a plaintiff's attorney's face.

The problem of an inaccurate or overly generous performance evaluation is often exacerbated when there is a transition in management. When an employee who is positively (but not accurately) evaluated by a manager for years is suddenly reporting to a new manager who does not sugarcoat the performance evaluation, and when that employee is later terminated for performance, the song that the plaintiff's attorney will sing to the judge or jury is that because the evaluations were positive under previous management, the sudden change in heart about the employee's performance must be because of the new manager's bias against the employee based upon his or her status in a protected class. Delivering an appropriate message about the employee's performance during the entire evaluation period is a strong tool should litigation ensue and may even dissuade a prospective attorney from taking the case.

Protective Instincts: Employers who make "protective" decisions to "help" an employee will also make the day of a plaintiff's attorney. For example, sometimes a manager may opt to send a male employee out-of-state for work on an important project instead of sending a female employee with small children at home, reasoning that she would not want to travel because of her responsibilities at home. Such a decision may be made with all of the best intentions and upon an assumption that relieving an employee with family responsibilities from travel will make that employee happy, but a plaintiff's attorney will easily turn those intentions into an intent to discriminate. When decisions are made about staffing, travel, or overtime assignments, the employer is not "helping" anyone but the plaintiff's attorney if the employee is eliminated from the decision making because he or she is assumed to need the "help" of the employer in navigating his or her work and personal life.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Bending the rules for one employee to make him or her happier at work is also fodder for a plaintiff's attorney. Consider the situation where a loyal, hardworking employee has a problem getting to work on time, enough for other employees to notice. Yet, because of the productivity and skill of the employee, the employer lets the attendance policy slide and puts up with the tardiness issue. Plaintiffs' attorneys love it when an employer extends grace to an employee to make him or her happy because when the attorney's client, who wasn't as valuable to the organization, is terminated for violations of the unenforced policy, an argument about pretextual decision-making is strengthened: if it was okay for one employee to show up late for work regularly, the plaintiff's tardiness must not have been the reason for the termination. The lesson: when an employer extends a courtesy and overlooks company policies for one employee, that decision may ultimately be a bigger courtesy to the plaintiff's attorney.

A Kinder and Gentler Termination: Unless contractual language to the contrary, an employer does not need to give a specific reason for a termination, although there are certainly times when it makes sense to do so. What makes little sense is to give a reason that is not the true reason just to make the termination meeting "easier" on the affected employee. For example, if the employee is terminated for performance, it is unwise to tell the employee that his position is being eliminated for the purpose of sparing him or her humiliation or self-doubt. The act of "kindness" to the employee may make the person communicating the termination feel better for a period of time, but it will make the plaintiff's attorney feel really good for a long time. The false reason articulated will be postured as pretext, not as an attempt to be compassionate.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions